EU SET TO INTRODUCE 48-HOUR WORKING WEEK
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by Miles Brignall • A 48-hour maximum working week for British drivers looked more likely this week after it emerged that the European Union plans to publish the proposal after the general election.
Previously it had been agreed that drivers working in the road transport sector would be exempt from the legislation. But now Brussels has said it wants transport workers included, and hopes that if there were an incoming Labour Government it would implement it the UK.
The White Paper proposing the working time directive, that includes limits for workers, was due to be published in January. EU sources have been reported as saying it was delayed in the hope that the incoming Government would be more receptive to hours limits. The Labour Party has said it will introduce the limits, if elected.
The move would have a dramatic affect on the haulage industry. At one stage in negotiations it looked as though only drivers working for a company might be restricted to a maximum 48-hour week—leaving owner-drivers untouched.
While it is difficult to see how restrictions on self-employed drivers would be policed, wholesale changes to the industry would result if they were not also covered by the restrictions.
Companies might effectively be forced to make all their drivers redundant and re-employ them as self employed contract workers to remain competitive, one employer says privately.