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Threat to opt-out growing

30 March 2005 by
Threat to opt-out growing

Europe has moved closer to ending Britain's right to opt out of the 48-hour working week.
Despite earlier proposals to restrict use of the opt-out, taken up by 200,000 hospitality staff in Britain, a meeting of MEPs earlier this month moved in favour of an outright ban.
Deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association Martin Couchman said that support for the opt-out, formerly widespread, seemed to be on the wane. "The debate will scrape and grind on for a little while, but friends of the opt-out are dropping away," he said. "Support from our own industry around Europe is strong, but not generally from other businesses."
Cercas Alejandro, the socialist Spanish MEP leading the debate in the European Parliament on the Working Time Directive, has publicly supported the abolition of the opt-out.
In a separate blow to the hospitality industry, a Government report on employment regulation released this week also underplayed the importance of the right to opt out of a 48-hour week. Couchman said: "Losing the right to opt out will reduce flexibility and make running a business much more difficult."

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