The EU enforces a 48-hour working week as part of the Working Time Directive. UK businesses have been able to opt out of this, enabling staff to work beyond the limit. However this may soon end.
In April a two-to-one majority within the European Parliament's employment committee voted to remove the British opt-out of the 48 hour working week. If the opt-out is removed, businesses will be forced to provide evidence that staff are not exceeding the working time limit.
Nick Jones, RMI human resources director, says: “When the Working Time Directive came into force, many UK businesses took the opt-out option in order to avoid the increased levels of bureaucracy and paperwork that were the result of committing to the 48 hour week.
“If the opt out is removed, businesses will need to rigorously monitor the hours staff work, and put systems in place to show that they are conforming to the rules.”
Jones adds: “It is unclear when businesses will lose the ability to opt-out, but the RMI will make sure its members are kept fully informed.”