Opt-out debate enters final stages
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Opt-out debate enters final stages

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The British Hospitality Association (BHA) is worried that if the UK fails to retain the opt-out clause in the European Working Time Directive, the new law could have detrimental effects on hospitality businesses.

Formal and final discussions restarted in Brussels last week to determine if the working week would be capped at 48-hours, as a deal has still not been reached between the UK government and members of the European Parliament which wants to axe the clause. A BHA spokesperson told Leisure Opportunities: "We are very concerned as the move will prevent employees working the hours they want to work, thus reducing their level of earnings. This is not a good move at such a difficult economic time.  It will also reduce the flexibility of employers organising their workforce to the best advantage so, if implemented, payroll costs will rise.  Hospitality is a 24/7 industry and this decision will reduce operators' flexibility, raise costs and reduce earnings - so who will benefit?

The EU Parliament voted to scrap the opt-out last December causing concern among UK businesses. Earlier in 2008 the UK reached an agreement with other EU member states to support the Agency Workers Directive, giving temporary workers the same pay as permanent staff after 12 weeks in a job, in return for being allowed to keep its opt-out from the 48-hour week. Liz Lynne, liberal democrat MEP, has criticised the UK Labour MEP who voted with socialist MEPs from other EU member states to axe the opt-out in the first stage of the parliament's review of the agreement.

"The vote plays politics with people's pockets and runs the risk of sinking the government's hard won deal to retain the opt out," she said. "Scrapping the opt out would be a bitter pill to swallow for businesses and many hard working people who are tightening their belts and who want to boost their earnings in difficult economic times."

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The British Hospitality Association (BHA) is worried that if the UK fails to retain the opt-out clause in the European Working Time Directive, the new law could have detrimental effects on hospitality businesses.
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