UK retains right for people to work more than 48 hours a week

The UK has retained its right to opt out of the EU Working Time Directive which limits the working week to 48 hours.

The Government made the announcement after reaching an agreement on both the Working Time Directive and the Agency Workers Directive at the EU Employment Council.

Under the compromise arrangement, workers will continue to be able to work more than 48 hours a week but will be subject to a cap of an average of 60 hours per week.

As another part of the compromise, agency workers will have to wait 12 weeks before they receive the same rights as full time employees. The EU had wanted the UK to grant equal rights from the first day of employment but this had proved unacceptable to the British Government.

Business Secretary John Hutton said: "This agreement means that people remain free to earn overtime and businesses can cope during busy times.

"The agreement on agency working will give a fair deal for agency workers and prevent unfair undercutting of permanent staff while retaining important flexibility for businesses to hire staff for short-term seasonal contracts or key busy times."

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