Labour & European Law Review
06 May 1998
Government consultation on Measures to implement the provisions of the Working Time Directive and the Young Workers Directive (April 1998)
The Government takes the option of repeating the definition in the Directive, so that working time is a period when a worker is 'working, at his employer's disposal and carrying out his activity or duties'.
The Government approach is to divide the working time provisions into two categories: those which give 'entitlements' to workers, and those which impose 'limits' on employers.
The maximum of an average 48 hours weekly working time is to be enforced by the Health and Safety Executive.
An adult worker is entitled to a rest period of not less than 11 consecutive hours in any 24 hour period: a young worker is entitled to 12.
The Government takes up the full range of opportunities to modify or restrict the application of the Directive, although it does not demonstrate how it has 'had due regard for the general principles of the protection of health and safety of workers', as it is required to do by the Directive.
There are currently 2.5 million UK workers who have no right to a paid holiday, and as many again who have an entitlement to less than the amount the Regulations will now provide.
Perhaps the most disappointing, and most worrying, provisions relate to the type of agreements which can modify the operation of the legislation.