BRITISH WORKERS will, by next autumn, have the right to refuse to work more than 48 hours each week, the government announced this week.
President of the board of trade Margaret Beckett confirmed that draft regulations for the European Commission Working Time Directive will be published at the end of March. These will be subject to consultation before coming into force on 1 October.
Under the directive employees will also have the right to paid leave and minimum rest periods.
Beckett described the directive, which is already applied to the rest of Europe, as a 'sensible and flexible' measure.
'Employers who invest in the welfare of their staff in return improve their productivity and competitiveness. So this is not only good for individuals and their families but for UK competitiveness as well,' she said.
(see Commentary, page 10)