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European Working Time Directive in debate

View profile for Sally Morris
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The laws surrounding the maximum hours an employee can work in one week may be scrapped under plans currently debated in Parliament.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said he will recommend that the Government should leave the European Working Time Directive, which limits the average work week to a maximum of 48 hours, with at least 11 consecutive hours of rest in any 24-hour period.

Though it is likely that it will be replaced with similar legislation, the Government has yet to propose an alternative.

Prime Minister Theresa May said she was committed to “maintaining and enhancing workers’ rights” in general after 2019.

Charlotte Cross, director of the Better Health at Work Alliance, said scrapping the European Working Time Directive could be “damaging” for employee wellbeing.

“It is very important that managers and HR have rigorous support systems in place for their workers, and that working rights continue to be protected in the UK after leaving the European Union,” she added.

The directive was introduced in 1998, and is responsible for enforcing the maximum weekly working limit (averaged over a 17 week period), night work limits, and health assessments for night work. If you’re over the age of 18, you can choose to work more than 48-hours a week by opting out.

It does not, however, enforce time off, rest break entitlements, or paid annual leave entitlements.