New EU regulations would ‘slash overtime’

Employers are warning that new European Union regulations would ‘slash the chances’ of work and overtime for thousands of people in the UK.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned that proposals to remove the UK’s opt-out of the Working Time Directive would cost thousands the chance to work overtime, and would damage employment opportunities.

A survey by the CBI found that 45% of employers would offer fewer temporary jobs because of the Temporary Workers Directive.

Fifty-nine per cent of businesses claimed the directive would impose extra costs making temporary workers less affordable and therefore removing a vital flexibility for employers and denying a crucial route into work for the unemployed, ex-offenders or working mothers.

Tim Watts, Chairman of the Pertemps Group who jointly carried out the research with the CBI, commented: ‘The UK’s flexible labour market creates many more employment opportunities. That is why more woman and traditionally under-involved groups are in work in the UK than in most other European countries. Squeezing these people out of the world of work would be bad for them and bad for the economy.’

According to the survey, 39% of employers claimed that losing the opt-out to the Working Time Directive would have a serious impact on their business.

The CBI claimed that removing this right would take away the opportunity for employees to earn extra and damage the competitiveness of companies

CBI deputy director-general, John Cridland, stated: ‘We reject charges that we are anti-regulation, what we oppose is bad regulation. This survey shows inappropriate and unnecessary EU rules threatening the freedom of individuals to work when and how they choose.’

Mr Cridland added: ‘Well crafted, thought-through, legislation can achieve its objectives without excessively damaging, or unintended, consequences.’

The survey also revealed that some extra employment legislation has not had an effect on the UK’s competitiveness.

The survey shows that Government trade union legislation has not destabilised UK industrial relations. Of the quarter of companies that recognised a union, only three per cent had done so since the introduction of the Employment Relations Act in 1999.

Trade union involvement in worker consultation was found to have declined. Ahead of the introduction of the National Information and Consultation Directive in 2005, the CBI said that more companies are introducing mechanisms for informing and consulting employees. Forty seven per cent said they had a mechanism to consult staff compared with 35% in 2002. However, 67% of companies that had a procedure to consult staff said that trade unions were not involved.