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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 May, 2005, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Working time directive vote: Your views
The European Parliament has voted to scrap the UK's opt-out clause of the Working Time Directive.

At the moment, workers can opt out of the directive if they want to work longer but this could come to an end over a three-year period.

Employers' groups say the move will reduce competitiveness but the leader of the Labour MEPs said the vote was about achieving a good "work-life balance" for UK families.

What do you think of the European Parliament's decision to scrap the opt-out clause? What hours should the UK be working? What effect will it have on businesses and health care services?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

I think it's time that the EU stopped telling the UK how to run its economy
Alex, Glasgow, UK
Everyone is in favour of a good work/life balance, but in order to achieve this we need to have a job in the first place. And the EU seems hell-bent on destroying as many jobs as they can. This directive is not important in and of itself, but it is symptomatic of a general anti-business, anti-British agenda. I think it's time that the EU stopped telling the UK how to run its economy, and instead takes some lessons from us. Whatever happened to subsidiarity anyway?
Alex, Glasgow, UK

Maybe now the British will focus not only on the quantity of their time spent at work, but on the actual quality of the work they do. Efficiency is not a British trait!
D Holloway, London UK

14 of the 23 men who work on my shop floor ask to work over at a premium rate when work is there. I haven't the heart to lock the door at 4.30pm because Brussels says I must. The lads would break it down!
Steve, Yorkshire, UK

What's this about a "strong economy". The UK's economy is being bled dry - take a look at the balance of trade for a true indicator of the health of the country. The UK's is highly negative - whilst the rest of the EU in large measure is positive. There seems to be higher employment in the UK because there are more McDonalds.
Dave Roden, Esbjerg, Denmark

What it prevents is people being made or expected to work long hours continually
Simon Proven, Cambridge, UK
The working time directive does not prevent people from working long hours for special circumstances, such as for a deadline or for the example of a harvest given by another respondent. What it prevents is people being made or expected to work long hours continually, which is counter-productive as productivity and quality drop significantly above eight hours work per day, and it's bad for the health.
Simon Proven, Cambridge, UK

Continental powers have tried to impose their will on Britain since the Norman invasion. Nothing much has changed. Does Britain still have the will to resist or will it relinquish control over its destiny to foreigners? What will Brussels outlaw about Britain next, the monarchy?
Mark, USA

I work 65 hours a week through choice because I want to have a large deposit for my first house. What does it matter to Europe how I spend my evenings? Keep Britain how it is, we are the most economically secure country in Europe. Vote 'No'.
Elliott Lawrence, Harlow, England

Why on earth do we allow these idiots any right to govern our lives? These Europeans don't have a clue how to be competitive in the 21st century, as can be witnessed by the high French, Italian and German unemployment rates. Now they want to drag the successful UK economy down with them - makes me sick.
John B, Edinburgh

Why can't Europe debate serious motions and stop telling us what to do?
Tom, Hove
In a low waged country such as ours it is all very well for Europe to in effect cut people's wage but what will they do about the fact they have sunk people even further into poverty. A case of bent bananas all over again. Why can't Europe debate serious motions and stop telling us what to do?
Tom, Hove

It's a good thing there is more to life than work, because soon enough there won't be much work...it will all go elsewhere. The economy does in fact depend on the number of hours people work. Where do the people who live in fairyland think all their social services come from? From tax revenues coming from people working. Enjoy your time off. There's plenty more where that came from, and plenty of people in China and India ready to take your job.
David King, London, UK

Every employee has its reason why he/she want to do extra hours. They should have the right to decide for that reason.
Po, Kent, England

Stop abuses yes, but allow those who want to, to work more than 48 hours. Why is the response to every problem always so simplistic and nannying?
Tim, London, UK

I work as a security officer and have done for 14 years. If I am only allowed to work 48 hours in the future who is going to make up the short fall in my pay? I shall be on the breadline, unlike the MEP's who are on the gravy train! What right does anyone have to dictate to me how many hours I work?
Les, Canterbury, Kent

I am self-employed and when I have the opportunity to get work I take it
Martin, Poole, UK
I am self-employed and when I have the opportunity to get work I take it. My strength and the reason I can charge what I do is in that I can deliver against tight deadlines that will often involve me in working 16-18 hours a day. How dare anyone try to take away my livelihood? Are they prepared to make up for my drop in income?
Martin, Poole, UK

I've always thought that one worked to live, not lived to work. Anything over 48 hours a week is nothing short of slave labour. If employers took on more staff, rather than working their existing ones to the point of exhaustion, there would be more employment for everyone, more tax revenue coming in as a result, and staff might even be able to enjoy a family life on top of their working commitments.
Kate, Wales

If this comes in, then I will not be able to earn enough to keep my mortgage going, so I will end up homeless. How exactly is that going to help me?
Pete B, Thatcham, UK

If I want to work more than 48 hours a week to improve my standard of living then I should make that decision. It should not be down to an overpaid MEP who probably earns more in a month than I can ever earn in a year. You should not be made to work more than 48 hours a week, but if you are happy to work more so be it, it should be your personal decision.
Ed, Lincoln, UK

Once again the EU thinks it can dictate to the individual
Robert Kunstmann, Waltham Abbey, Essex
Once again the EU thinks it can dictate to the individual. Of course, Labour could grow a spine and simply refuse to implement a law created by a foreign body, but somehow I don't think it'll happen.
Robert Kunstmann, Waltham Abbey, Essex

Working time is another example of Britain's attitude to Europe. If you were running a football team and one of the players said they didn't want to play by the same rules as everyone else - you'd say join in or drop out - this is Britain's problem. Are they on the euro team to win together or on the team only for their own self interest?
Tom, Belgium

What was the point in voting on 5 May! It is clear to me that this government has no control over matters that directly concern the people of this country. By the way isn't this against my human rights? If I choose to work I should be allowed to without interference from unelected busy bodies.
David Edwards, Staffordshire

Work to live, not live to work. I admire European values. Europe should pressure others to follow.
Mark, Tucson, USA

The opt-out clause is essential for me. I love my work and I want to work 60 hours a week or more sometimes. Furthermore I need the money, and if I am happy working and need the money I think the MEPs are being a bit arrogant telling me I can't do it. What has happened to individual liberty?
Richard Boat, Doncaster, UK

I laugh at EU common sense and legislative ability. Instead of fixing the high unemployment problem and generous pensions in France and Germany, they, the Old Europe, have decided to pull other fast growing EU countries down to their laziness level so they can have a better chance to compete.
James, West Kent

Yes, bring it on and let's get our social life back
David, Coventry
Are we European? I would have said yes as that's what we get called everyday. If this is so then why should we not have the same working luxuries that our neighbours seem to enjoy? I am not disputing that others need the flexible hours to increase their pay but I work in the hotel industry and it seems to be a forgotten trade when the question of hours comes to mind. The industry has always had the ethos that you should work round the business on the same pay for 40 hours but you have to do sometimes 80 hours for the love of the it. Yes, bring it on and let's get our social life back and get rid of an archaic system that penalises people for the industry they work in because it is expected.
David, Coventry

This is one of those schemes that sound so idealistic and great in theory but are a nightmare in reality. If they are going to control hours of work, the government's love of targets for education, health and policing will have to end. Some police officers I know are coming into work off duty just to keep on top of the mounds of paperwork they have to do - surely reducing their official hours will make this worse if they are still expected to meet the same arrest and detection figures.
Naomi, Nottingham

This directive was brought in to stop employers forcing employees to work over 48 hours. If a worker wants to work over 48 hours, to pay for a holiday, car, etc, then they should be allowed to. It is time the unions realised that the majority is what they should represent, not an out of date socialist attitude.
Michael Atkins, Poole England

I understand people's concern and anger at being forced to do overtime, however the opt-out doesn't force people to put in more than 48 hours, it just gives them the option to decide whether they want to do so or not, and the Euro Parliament's decision just smacks of their usual effort to interfere in people's lives and liberties
Juan Santiago, Bergamo Italy

We supposedly pride ourselves on freedom and deride societies that curb that freedom. Although our work life balance is an issue in our country, it is an individual human right to decide how we spend our time.
Fred, Dorset

This vote in the European Parliament is not decisive and no legislation results from it. The EP shares its decision-making powers with the Council of Ministers. Both institutions have to agree on a text for it to become law. That has not happened yet. So there is no change to the existing law. The newly re-elected Government should now work hard with allies during negotiations in the Council of Ministers to ensure the opt-out is retained. The Labour MEPs who have voted against the UK Government's line should be ashamed. Europe needs to focus less on an individual's rights once employed and more on the right every individual has to get a job in the first place.
George Hughes, London, UK

While at university I used to do weekend security watch jobs, once in the summer my security firm sent me a rota for the coming week it had on it Mon-Thurs 8pm till 8am, Fri 8pm-9am, sat 5:30pm-10:30am and Sunday 4pm till 10am, now you tell me if it is good to have a an opt out agreement
Rizwan Saleem, UK

Personally, I'd prefer to have the choice of whether I worked over 48 hours a week or not; however, I'm willing to sacrifice that choice to protect others from being exploited. It's very sad that there are so many companies and organisations that treat their workforce so badly, and I'm very glad I don't work for one of them!
J, London, UK

Surely I can decide what life/work balance I want to have
Shaun Thomas, Earls Colne, Essex
As a postman I enjoy my work but it is low paid and I have to do overtime to supplement my wages which I am happy to do. I am appalled that I may lose the right to work overtime. Surely I can decide what life/work balance I want to have?
Shaun Thomas, Earls Colne, Essex

The right not to be over-worked is obviously important. But what about the people who enjoy their work? And what about the idea of 'work hard play hard'? Why can't people be allowed to earn as much money as they want so that they can enjoy spending at least a bit of their hard-earned cash (i.e. the bit that isn't taxed or required just to stay afloat) as they want?
Robert, Bordeaux, France

Why should people who earn too much tell me when I can and can't work? I chose to work over the 48 hours so I can have a fair wage. Unless I get a large pay rise I will have to work the overtime!
Mark, Swansea

Oh great so now some of us students are going to be put under even more financial pressure... thanks for that Brussels. Surely it is a basic right to choose whether we work more than 48 hours per week or not?
David Mcgowan, Redditch, Worcestershire

All this ruling will do is guarantee that more jobs are off-shored to countries outside the EEC
Trevor, Cambs, UK
All this ruling will do is guarantee that more jobs are off-shored to countries outside the EEC where these restrictions do not apply - and there will be no shortage of takers. Rather than improve workers conditions they will reduce them, by taking their jobs away entirely.
Trevor, Cambs, UK

My firm has a policy of recruiting managers with families from distant parts of the UK. These people are then provided with a flat in London, and given more work they can possibly handle in an eight hour day. The result is that they take it all home with them because they are away from 'distractions'. The EU needs to stamp out this insidious behaviour too.
Edward, London

My company's business fluctuates so much that we can't plan workloads even a week in advance. One month we might all be working 50+ hours a week, the next month we might struggle to find things to do to fill 20 hours a week. It all balances out at the end of the year, and we are all happy with the arrangements. If we are forced to cut our longer hours then the company is likely to suffer as a result, and could even go out of business. We plan to continue to 'unofficially' work our longer hours - what else can we do?
Mo C, UK

If we can't work the hours that we judge necessary to pay our bills, won't everything just come crashing down?
David Ball, Wokingham, UK

Why should Brussels dictate which hours a UK citizen may work, the current situation is that employees themselves choose to opt-out of the directive, now Brussels have decided the individual can't have this right, so they are restricting the right of the person; what are Brussels doing for that person when their job goes to India where the people work all day and earn so little?
Sean, East Yorkshire, UK

10% unemployment in Germany, 11% unemployment in France. They've messed up their economies, we shouldn't risk losing our outside investors just to knock a couple of hours off our working week.
Richard, UK

Why should the EU have the right to limit any overtime I wish to work. I rarely, if ever, exceed the limit over a four month period - but I could if I wanted to. I want to retain that right! It's my money in my back pocket that these fools are attempting to remove.
David Child, Ipswich

The people who complain about this new directive are the same people who complain about children not being brought up properly by their parents. Maybe now UK parents will be able to spend enough time with their children so that UK kids can also become well adjusted and well behaved like European kids are. There was so much scare mongering going on about the minimum wage, but none of its come true. This won't put anyone out of business either. It's good business sense because happy workers are more productive workers and they're more likely to stay with an employer so that they don't have to hire and train new people all the time.
Christine, UK

Another nail in Europe's employment coffin
Roger Thompson, Lisburn
Another nail in Europe's employment coffin. Hope you all like flipping burgers because once all the real jobs have gone elsewhere that's all your kids will be doing when they grow up. Wake up - now!
Roger Thompson, Lisburn

Is there any wonder that the US, China, and India are growing more that Europe. I'm wondering if the EU's MEPs keep this up that Europe just might become "third world" at some point. The balance between labour and business is always in flux. One gets stronger to correct the imbalance of the other. To try and set a "fixed mark" is stupid, and will just hurt Europe more. Unless having the growth problems of France, and Germany are what you are aiming for.
Ken Blackwood, Rockville, MD

From my experience working as a medical registrar at a busy hospital in central Birmingham, the European Working Directive is making on-call rotas for doctors virtually unworkable and it is adversely affecting continuity of patient care as well as doctors' training. The bizarrely complicated shift rotas that have to be made to accommodate this legislation are more disruptive to doctors' lives than the previous straightforward on-call system. Patients have to see several sets of different doctors during their admission and there are fewer doctors on duty at any one time.
P D, Birmingham

Britain is had the longest working hours as well as the highest number of working days (lowest number of Bank Holidays than any other EU country) and it is time the employers rewarded staff with a fair wage for a fair job and this would remove the need for employees to have to work hours in excess of the average to make ends meet.
Gerard Kelly, Dagenham

I find it hard to believe that MEPs seem unable to grasp that people want the option to work over the 48 hours. These MEPs don't need to work overtime on their big pay packets, paid out of our taxes! How dare they? I think this will have an adverse effect on any EU vote. I can manage my own work/life balance please stop meddling!
S Bentley, Nuneaton

Over my 14 years of work, since leaving school, I have noticed an increase in ill health amongst colleagues. When questioned, work colleagues felt that their job caused the majority of their ill health. This is because of the amount of hours in which they worked or because of the amount of worked being squeezed into a single day. No longer are evenings, weekends time of rest. Working to live seems to be the trend and many people would agree it is all to keeping businesses running on tight budgets with the intent of increasing profits. I would in no doubt vote for any rule which cuts down the working hours of workers and give us the quality lives we deserve.
Mike Bailey, Hednesford, Staffs

I suspect not much will change, in the private sector at least. People who feel under pressure to work excessive hours will continue to do so unless they are prepared to risk their career prospects by taking their employer to court/a tribunal. I still think it's useful to have a cap, as it will force employers to make the right noises, which may lead to a change in culture.
Naomi , London, UK

For too long now Britain has opted out of the bits of the constitution that doesn't suit it
Andy P, UK
For too long now Britain has opted out of the bits of the constitution that doesn't suit it. It is time that we became a fully integrated member of the EU. Businesses have been exploiting the British workforce since the erosion of workers' rights. Industry generally will no longer be able to expect extended unpaid work from a limited number of employees. This will necessitate more employees having to cover outstanding work time and ensuring a fairer wage for all.
Andy P, UK

I welcome anything which may help to reduce my wife's working week. She is a primary school teacher and regularly works more than 60 hours per week. This includes four evenings per week and the whole of Sunday. The majority of teachers suffer the same conditions, many working substantially longer than 60 hours. It is about time our Government took serious steps to reduce teachers' work hours - the proposed half day to carry out "paperwork tasks" is a joke and will do virtually nothing to help main stream teachers. With respect to the "opt-out clause" I believe it should not be mandatory for any person who wishes to work in excess of 48 hours per week.
Robin Coates, Durham UK

Our economy is arguably the strongest in Europe and part of the reason for this is almost certainly our retention of the right to choose the hours that we work. When the majority of the population remain single until their late 20s it is of immense benefit to retain the right to work more hours in order to take advantage of the opportunity to work up the career ladder quickly and early on, before settling down to family life.
Lucy Hodgson, London, UK

Surely it is my choice to do what I wish in my own time
Stuart Clarke, Huddersfield UK
As a Special Constable I find this very disturbing, many police services state that the Working time regulations apply to those working as volunteer unpaid constables, requiring the signing of an opt out agreement. If this removal of the opt out clause is imposed I will end up not being able to provide anywhere near the time that I currently do. Surely it is my choice to do what I wish in my own time, and as I choose to give my time to the community who benefits from this being reduced? I fail to see how this has any benefits to my health wellbeing or personal satisfaction as the time will only end up being filled by another activity which may well be just as physically or mentally demanding and in the case of some sporting activities considerable more so than a normal day in the office!
Stuart Clarke, Huddersfield UK

The European Parliament's decision to scrap the opt-out clause is narrow thinking. I feel Britain should have the right to choose for itself how many hours its citizens care to work for themselves and not be dictated to by the EU. Shorter working hours will only play into the hands of China and badly hurt the economies of many EU member states who lean too heavily to the left.
Keith Buck, Copenhagen, Denmark

Once again a European debate is fuelled by misinformation instead of the reality
Sam Mawson, UK, London
Lots of people posting here don't realise that the 48 hour week is there to protect people from over zealous employers. If you're a farmer then you'll be able to work more then 48 hours a week because you're not being forced to. Once again a European debate is fuelled by misinformation instead of the reality.
Sam Mawson, UK, London

As an American in a global business I welcome this change because it will allow me and my employees to outperform our European competitors. Thanks EU for hobbling the competition with increased bureaucratic burdens!
Joe, New York, NY

We in 'rip-off' Britain need to work long hours to be able to live. When taxes reduce then so will my hours!
Bob, Bedford, England

This will mean increased business costs and knock on effect to cost for goods. Individuals will see serious loss of earnings if they already work outside the 48 hr week.
Roger Jones, Leeds UK

Great News! Maybe I will now see more of my partner and children. That's unless my firm move all the jobs to India.
Andrew Palmer, West Midlands

What right does anybody other than my employers have to dictate how long I work for?
James, UK
When I was getting a new home and having to provide for my new family, overtime was essential. What right does anybody other than my employers have to dictate how long I work for?
James, UK

It's interesting to read that people are relying upon working overtime in order to make ends meet. The only conclusion I can draw is that wages being paid by employers don't reflect the true cost of living in the UK. This throws up interesting links with the other debates here about the UK economy and slave labour. As for me, I know that if I wasn't living with my parents, there's no way I could afford to survive on 7 an hour for a 37.5 hour working week!
Gareth Holwill, Harpenden, Herts.

The people who say they are on low pay and are outraged that their working week may be limited have the mentality of obedient slaves. Rather than try and gain themselves better wages, employment law or workplace representation they are simply obeying their masters wishes. Sad, duped people. I say let them work their extra hours...
Clive Fons, UK in France

I voted not to join the Common Market in the original referendum. I have never found cause to change my mind since then. We have thrown away sovereignty over our own affairs - and for what?
Ian Thom, Derby, England

I am a student and work over 55 hours per week when not attending university, the money is essential to my upkeep. this ruling surely conflicts with many human rights!
Wayne Berry, Newcastle upon Tyne

Employers shouldn't always set such unrealistic targets, and employees shouldn't be slaves to them
Russell Parton, London, England
There's a culture in parts of the media (where employees generally work to extra tight deadlines), to do overtime as a matter of course and to be seen as unusual not to do this. Employers shouldn't always set such unrealistic targets, and employees shouldn't be slaves to them. There is more to life than just work so well done the European Parliament!
Russell Parton, London, England

If I wanted to ruin European competitiveness, increase unemployment and reduce living standards for EU workers, I couldn't think of a better way to do it. The Americans and Asian countries must be rubbing their hands with glee at this utter lunacy.
Austin, Edinburgh

Sorry Austin in Edinburgh, you've got it all wrong. A large part of the social ills that bedevil the UK now, is the lack of family cohesion and time spent together, all as a direct result of excessive hours at work as well as many companies 'presentism' culture (ie the number of hours spent fruitlessly in the office). America leads the field in this respect and look at their crime statistics, and unfortunately the UK imports all that is wrong with America but nothing that is good.The scale of teenage crime in Europe (not UK) is minor in comparison to the US and UK and a large part of their success is the family culture. Blair and Bush are full of rhetoric over this family ideology but the facts speak for themselves. The EU commission has got it right. No apologies for that. Do you really want just 2 weeks vacation a year like the US?
Mike, Denia, Spain

I think this is a positive piece of legislation for all the people like myself who work in professions where you are expected to put in ridiculous amounts of unpaid overtime.
Chris Bird, London

All this does is force companies to hire extra staff and pay them less.
Rob, Reigate, Surrey.

Workers deserve a work life balance, no matter what their profession
Sarah Maskell, Reading, UK
About time too. I know of someone who was 'given the option' of opting out of this directive although it was made clear that, if they didn't opt out, they wouldn't get the job. They started off working 60 hour weeks! Ridiculous. They also didn't get paid for the hours worked over 35 - disgraceful. As a trade unionist, I am appalled that this is allowed to go on in our country. Workers deserve a work life balance, no matter what their profession. If this is not possible within the 48 hour timescale then more staff are needed or the job reviewed. People should not be expected to sacrifice their families.
Sarah Maskell, Reading, UK

Just because the rest of Europe is in such a mess, why do they have to pull us down as well with this directive?
Martyn, West Kent

I work in the financial services industry and although there is an opt-out it is made pretty clear that one has to sign it. At last this is a clear opportunity to redress the work-life balance with the support of the law. If this creates more jobs then so be it!
Michael, London UK

Hands off my overtime!
Fred Pettersson, Devizes, UK
I rely on my second income to make ends meet and to pay for the mortgage etc. What right has MEPs got to take my right away to provide a proper living for me and my family. Just because they are paid over the odds salaries, bonuses and allowances, doesn't mean they should interfere in honest working people's way of earning a crust. Hands off my overtime!
Fred Pettersson, Devizes, UK

As a supporter of European integration, will Mr Blair set a good example and himself work within the requirements of such a directive ?
Peter, London

Coming from a farming background and living in a farming community I'd like to know how all farmers and contractors over busy times such as harvest could work only 48 hours a week! As if! If the weather is right and the crops are ready the amount of hours worked is the last thing their minds!
James, East Yorks, UK

Surely, the point is that, until reasonable working hours are enforced by law, employers will blackmail and coerce their staff into working excessive hours. If this were not the case, there would be no need for legislation.
John Rogers, Bristol, England

Being a research neuroscientist trained in America, I was used to 70+ hour weeks. Coming to the UK, the drop to 50-60 hour weeks teaching at university was welcome, but there is no way I can get my work and research done in a 48 hour week.
Harry Erwin, PhD, Sunderland, UK (and US)

I run my own company working with emergency services in the UK. I hope they will be happy when we cannot work on a critical problem just because we worked late a few nights. When will these euro-nuts wake up and talk to real people.
Alastair Coombs, Chippenham, Wiltshire

Better that the elected European Parliament decides rather than the unelected Commissioners
David Anderson, West Yorkshire
Better that the elected European Parliament decides rather than the unelected Commissioners. But if the decision is made, there should be no opt-out agreed behind closed doors. Alternatively, we could abolish both the European Parliament and the Commissioners. Then the Council of Ministers could decide, which is what they seem to do anyway.
David Anderson, Wakefield, West Yorkshire

Since the MEPs have voted to reduce my earnings, can they please tell me when I get to vote on their pay cut?
S Blyth, Northampton, England

Another case of the EU applying the most simplistic legislation it can think of with no regard for how it affects people. I don't get paid overtime yet I'm perfectly happy to work extra hours if there is a deadline and it's required. My employer doesn't abuse this to make me work unneeded hours and I resent some official somewhere deciding what hours I should be allowed to work, that should be between the employer and employee and should be open to fair use. If the EU wants to help it should look at cutting down the abuses of the law not creating a flat cap.
Matt, Cambridge

How many people are killed on the roads every year because someone who is working very long hours fell asleep at the wheel? This issue does not only affect the individual concerned. Also if people are "choosing" to work such long hours, what long term effect could this be having on their children who do not see them. As a nation we are in danger of losing all sense of balance in our own lives and also any sense of how our actions also affect others.
Graham, Brighton

There is more to life than work. I agree if people are daft enough they should be free to work as many hours as they safely can, but there are employers who force staff to work overtime who don't want to, these are the people who need protecting.
Martin Wilkins, Newport, Wales

What ever happened to personal choice?
Terry, Epsom, Surrey, England
What ever happened to personal choice? Is it not my human right to decide for myself that I am willing to work more than an average of 48hrs per week? Why is it the EU intend to take this right away from me? What will they do if I decide to ignore it? Will they send me to jail for working? Seems to me that there are some conflicts here!
Terry, Epsom, Surrey, England

This is a great decision. People who think that the 'opt-out' is optional in most companies are kidding themselves - people are pretty much forced to sign it. One of the most damaging things happening in the world at the moment is pursuit of wealth over everything else. It's about time we realised that there are far more important things in life. As for people who complain that we 'need' to work harder to compete with China etc, where do they propose we stop? Scrap the minimum wage? Safety in the workplace? It's up to us to set the standards in the workplace and other nations to follow, not for us to make our lives miserable to match theirs. The solution is to heavily tax trade with countries that don't give their workers these rights, then everyone in the world benefits.
Dominic Tristram, Bath, UK

In my company we recognise that when people consistently work long hours it means one of two things. We need more people because our staff will burn out, or that the people working long hours are not up to doing their job in the allotted time. Good businesses don't need to force people to work long hours.
John, Fleet, UK

The economy does not just depend upon how many hours a day we work
Adam, Edinburgh, Scotland
Well done the Greens. As always, they recognise that the economy does not just depend upon how many hours a day we work, but also on how much time we have to look after our children/parents, volunteer for charities and engage in civil society.
Adam, Edinburgh, Scotland

I work for the NHS as a porter. My pay is 5.55 per hour. The overtime that I do enhances a bad wage when all is said and done. How can the EP's decision be a good one when effectively it means that I will earn less each year not through my own freedom of choice but by being told that even though I'm willing to work they won't let me. People should not be forced to work overtime EVER but don't take away a person's right of choice and freedom to work if the choice is there.
David Fox, Sheffield

The rule is a reasonable method of stopping the excessive abuse of the employee/ employer relationship. Within reason the employer should be hiring the labour of the worker for an agreed time. If it goes over this time then the employer should employ another person to cope, not abuse the existing workforce.
Greg Rivers, Birmingham, UK

How will this make any difference to working hours when UK businesses are abusing the current Working Time Directive? My husband would love to work a 37.5 hour week as it states in his contract, but as it stands he is expected to put in however many hours are required to do the job, even if that means 80 hours per week. He has never signed an opt-out form and wouldn't!

What about younger people who do not have family commitments? Working overtime enables us to earn some extra money instead of staying at home doing nothing! When will politicians realise that a "one size fits all" policy does not work?
SL, London

I think everyone should be free to decide how many hours they wish to work - as simple a that!
T. Watkins, Berwick, East Sussex

Who has the stronger economy?
Dave Westerhoff, London, UK
What a load of rubbish, yet another instance of the EU dictating how and when we work. I'm a shift worker who does 48 hours per week split into twelve hour shifts then has three days off. None of my work mates has any problem with this rota and if we want overtime that's down to us to agree to this. It seems that this proposal is just another way of bringing the UK's working practice in line with the rest of the EU but who has the stronger economy?
Dave Westerhoff, London, UK

Competitiveness is an essential part of Europe's future in order to gain world status and a better economy. However, workers' rights and needs should never be forgotten. In this case the European Parliament has acted unwisely. Scraping the opt-out clause will only lead to lack of production and staff-shortage. The opt-out rule - which could have been seen as an alternative to boost production - has now been abandoned, which eventually could lead to less compromise - putting our 48 weekly working hours in danger.
Samuel Doveri Vesterbye, Brussels, Belgium

In a time when we face ever increasing competition from the Chinese and Indian markets, it is ridiculous for the EU to 'hobble' European businesses with this ridiculous ruling. A huge step backwards. We will all suffer for it when jobs are lost and UK businesses fold.
David, London

How is Europe meant to compete with the rest of the world when we are regulated by such nonsense?
Neil, Edinburgh
Are they absolutely crazy? How is Europe meant to compete with the rest of the world when we are regulated by such nonsense. Leave the decision on how to balance "work" and "life" up to the employees, we are more than mature enough to handle that sort of decision. We do not need a nanny state regulating our working schedules!!
Neil, Edinburgh

I wonder the outcome if I chose to work the hours I chose and claimed it as my human right to do so!
Chris Cozens, Ropley, UK

If enforced this will be disastrous for the City of London, as many financial jobs require 120% from their staff.
David Brookes, Zurich

This vote sends a clear signal to employers that there is more to life than work. Yes people should have choice over their working but too many are trapped in a long hours culture. Many people would love to have 3-day weekends for less money but realise that they would be giving up career prospects as well as income. We all have to realise (and there is much psychological data to support this) that we would be much happier if we spent more time with family and friends or pursuing our interests rather than working long hours to buy more things that we don't need.
Nic Marks, Wallingford, UK

The government should just ignore this ruling. They are elected to make the law in the UK not the EU.
John Burton, UK


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