The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has hit out at MEPs for voting to ban employees in the UK from choosing to work more than 48 hours per week.
Members of the European Parliament voted earlier this week to axe the opt-out clause from the Working Time Directive, meaning that some three million workers who currently choose to work more than 48 hours a week would be forced not to do so.
A final decision will be reached in December by the whole of the European Parliament, but this week's vote to scrap the opt-out by the Employment and Social Affairs Committee is likely to sway opinion.
A spokesman for the BHA said the move would be negative for both employers and workers, particularly with the economy worsening.
"We are very concerned as the move will prevent employees working the hours they want to work, thus reducing their level of earnings," he said. "It will also reduce the flexibility of employers organising their workforce to the best advantage.
"Hospitality is a 24/7 industry and this decision will reduce operators' flexibility, raise costs and reduce earnings - so who will benefit?" the spokesman added.
The criticism was echoed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Mike Emmott, CIPD's employee relations adviser, said: "Good employers do not make their staff work longer hours, but business demands may occasionally arise, requiring employees to put in extra hours.
"Additionally, the removal of this flexibility neglects to recognise that employees may value the freedom of choosing whether to work more hours or not."
By Daniel Thomas
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