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UK Authorities Opt Out Of EU 48 Hour Working Week

As the number of UK employees that work over 48 hours a week continues to rise, the news that the UK has negotiated a permanent opt out of the EU 48 hour week maximum is likely to receive a mixed reaction. There are many employees that need to work over the EU maximum to earn a living wage, while there are also a significant number who may now come under renewed pressure to put in more overtime at work.

The move has turned out to be something of a success for the Government and business owners, many of which had seen their turnover slashed after the EU working directive was introduced. However, the government has also announced the earlier move to give part-time and agency staff exactly the same rights as permanent employees after a 12 week period. This seems to have been one of the reasons why the opt-out clause was granted to the UK authorities.

The UK has always been at the forefront of the working week numbers throughout Europe, with UK employees working considerably longer hours than the vast majority of European counterparts. Quite how this new change will affect industry in the UK remains to be seen, but with the Unions flexing their muscles it may well lead to considerable friction between the Unions and Employers.

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