An new proposal from the Finnish presidency on the stalled Working Time Directive would allow the UK to maintain its opt-out from the directive’s 48-hour cap, but introduce a 60-hour cap for all.
On 20 October 2006, the Finnish Presidency presented a compromise proposal for a revised version of the Working Time Directive. The proposal picks up key elements from the Commission’s 2003 draft but adds a few elements to make it more acceptable for the UK:
- The 48-hour “soft cap”, out of which workers can opt out if their country’s government decided so, is to remain;
- if social partners agree, the average working time can to be calculated over a 12-month period;
- the 48-hour cap is to be complimented by a 60-hour “hard cap”, which would be binding for all countries, with no possibility of an opt-out. The average working time for this cap is to be calculated over a six-month period;
- no cap would apply for company executives, emergency service workers and farmers;
- on-call times would not be treated as working time, and;
- the Directive would have to be reviewed after another three-year period, with more measures intended to bring down working time looming if the revised directive proves ineffective in doing so.