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Government presses ahead with Working Time Directive

Hoteliers and restaurateurs will be forced to review their employment practices because of Government plans to speed up the implementation of the European Union Working Time Directive in the next few weeks.

The directive, which introduces a series of new rules on working hours, including the establishment of a 48-hour weekly limit, should have been in force in November 1996 but was delayed because of a legal challenge (which failed) by the Conservative government.

The directive will mean that:

  • Staff can work no more than 48 hours a week. Employers must obtain the prior consent of individual staff if they want them to work extra hours.

  • Employees are entitled to rest breaks when working longer than six hours.

  • Staff can work no more than 13 hours in a day.

  • Workers are entitled to four weeks’ annual leave (three weeks until November 1999).

  • Employees have a right to a minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours for every 24-hour period and a minimum weekly rest period of 24 consecutive hours per seven-day week.

  • Night workers may work no more than eight hours in any 24-hour period and they are entitled to free health assessments before assignment to night shifts and at regular intervals thereafter.

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