04/02/2002

Report shows over 4 million UK employees work long hours

Despite a European working time directive, nearly four million people in the UK are working more than 48 hours a week, according to a new report.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) report - published on Monday February 4 - slams the UK's long hours working culture as a "national disgrace".

According to the report managers and professional staff work the longest hours, with one in 25 men working at least 60 hours a week. A total of 350,000 more people are working a 48-hour week compared with a decade ago.

TUC general secretary John Monks said: "Britain's long-hours culture is a national disgrace. It leads to stress, ill health and family strains. But even worse, it's an indictment on how badly we manage work in the UK."

While in the UK workers work an average of 43.6 hours, the European average stands at 40.3. In France the average is just 38.9 hours. This is despite the European Working Time Directive of 1998 which introduced a 48-hour working week limit.

Certain occupations were exempt, including the media and healthcare.

But the business group, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) wants workers to continue to have the choice.

John Cridland, CBI Deputy Director-General, said: "Workers want the right to make their own decisions about working extra hours. Managerial workers often work longer hours because they want to. Operational staff often work longer hours because they are paid for it. Neither group will thank the government for intervening. They don't want a nanny state.

"Regulation has a role to play. The Working Time Directive gives people the right to say 'no' to working extra hours. But having the existing individual opt out from the 48-hour limit also gives people the right to say 'yes'. The CBI will vigorously defend that right." (AMcE)

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