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HVCA welcomes breakdown in Working Time Directive review talks

HVCA has welcomed a recent breakdown of discussions on a review of the European Working Time Directive which, had they continued, could have resulted in the abolition of the UK 'opt-out'.
The opt-out allows individual workers to enter into an agreement with their employers which allows them to work more than the average 48 hours per week stipulated by the directive.

Following the decision of the European Parliament in December of last year that the opt-out should be abolished - and that all 'on-call' time should be categorised as working time - a conciliation process was set in motion, involving the parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Ministers. However the talks broke down on April 28 this year, without agreement having been reached on the proposed changes to the existing directive.

'This has been a long-running saga but when the European Parliament voted last December in support of further restrictions on working time, it was clear that the crunch was approaching,' said Peter Rimmer, HVCA head of employment affairs.

Rimmer said the proposed provisions regarding 'on-call' time would have been especially onerous for service and maintenance specialists and providers of facilities services.

'I am convinced that the fact that the Association wrote to all the MEPs involved in the recent conciliation discussions - and to the permanent representatives of all 27 EU member states - has been very influential in achieving this very satisfactory outcome.

'It means that the existing Working Time Directive is unchanged and, in particular, that the opt-out remains intact,' Rimmer confirmed.

An HVCA member survey carried out in 2003 - when the Commission began its review of the Working Time Directive - revealed that:

  • 61% of respondents employed operatives who had signed opt-out agreements that exempted them from the restrictions on their weekly working hours; and

  • more than 80% of respondents confirmed that further restrictions on working hours would lead to lack of flexibility and consequent failure to meet deadlines.

  • In October 2003, the findings of this survey were presented to key decision-makers in the European Parliament and the European Commission – and to the permanent representatives of a number of individual EU member states – as part of an initiative co-ordinated by HVCA on behalf of a number of organisations representing the construction and building services engineering sectors.
    1 May 2009


    By Denis Lunney
    01 May 2009 01:01:00

    I run a service and repair company. My engineers and clients have to work extra hours at times to complete work in progress.
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