European Commission review of working time directive

Print publication


In contrast to the majority of EU countries, in the UK workers are able to sign an agreement to ‘opt-out’ of the maximum 48 hour working week under the Working Time Regulations (WTR). This ‘opt-out’ has previously undergone scrutiny as to whether it is truly in line with the objectives of the Working Time Directive (from which the WTR derive) and is about to do so again as the European Commission (EC) has published an online public consultation as part of its ongoing review of the Directive. In 2013 the European social partners discussed but failed to reach agreement on proposed amendments to the Directive (including whether the ‘opt-out’ could be allowed to remain). There was a strong response from those UK business organisations that make use of the existing ‘opt-out’ and employers in these sectors will no doubt be following the consultation with interest once again.