The Working Time Directive was introduced in 1993 by The European Commission. It limited the maximum working week to 48 hours unless staff requested to work longer. After a recent review, EU ministers have agreed that Britain can retain its opt out of the legislation.
The opt-out has allowed member states to put in place measures allowing individuals to agree not to be subject to the 48-hour working limit. Employees are basically allowed to work as many hours as they wish now but with a cap at 60 hours over an average of 3 months.
According to the TUC, 3.3 million employees currently work longer than 48 hours a week.
John Hutton, Business Secretary commented : "Flexibility has been critical to our ability to create an extra three million jobs over the past decade. That flexibility has been preserved by ensuring workers can continue to have choice over their working hours in future years".
Industries such as catering, hospitality and recruitment rely heavily on this legislation.
Chris Crawford is the MD of BD Recruitment, a specialist recruiter for the creative recruitment, marketing recruitment and technical recruitment industries, based in Manchester, UK.