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UK government may lose opt-out over European Working Time Directive

If the worst comes to worst it seems as though the UK government is set to receive a significant backlash from the UK employment sector with news that the European Parliament is looking into the U.K.'s right to opt out of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD). This opt out formed a crucial basis of Gordon Brown's strategy to push through closer ties with the European Parliament which many saw as against the spirit of the Labour Party's election manifesto, which promised the UK population a referendum on closer ties with Europe.

The UK was one of 14 EU members which opted out of the 48-hour working week, giving employers the option to offer further hours to UK workers. However, there has been some conflict within the European Parliament where a number of MPs, including UK Labour MPs, have voted in favour of scrapping the opt out clause and introducing the EWTD across the whole of Europe.

Interestingly we have recently been hearing stories about employees in the UK pushed to the limit regarding their working hours with many taking on extra time unpaid. It is not so much the fact that the EU Parliament could impose the 48-hour week on the UK but the fact that the so-called "opt out" which has been used as an excuse by the government for many years appears to be losing its power.

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