Britain escapes 48-hour working week

Food manufacturers have expressed relief over the news that UK workers will retain the right to work for more than 48-hours a week.


EU attempts to curb the UK's opt out from Europe's 48-hour working week collapsed on Tuesday after MEPs failed to come to an agreement over an update of the Working Time Directive.

In December, EU ministers voted to phase out the UK's opt out from the directive within three years, but the failure of the talks means that the UK will retain its opt out along with the other member states who have adopted it.

Angela Coleshill, Food and Drink Federation (FDF) HR Director, said: “The fact that discussions have broken down without agreement means that the UK along with up to 15 EU member states will be able to continue to give their employees choice over working hours; something that has operated successfully for many years.

“FDF has lobbied hard to ensure that the UK government and MEPs understand the implications for our sector of losing the opt out of the Working Time Directive, so we welcome the news that this flexibility remains in place.”

Some working unions have expressed concern over the opt-out, claiming that it will leave workers vulnerable to exploitation, but manufacturers say that the it protects the right of food industry workers to work overtime when they need extra money.

“Many food industry employees welcome the opportunity to do additional hours at times of peak demand,” said Coleshill, who stressed that the FDF supports flexibility, but does not encourage long working hours.

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