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17 October 2003

Thousands more workers given working time protection
Working time remains a key issue for union representatives, and amendments to the Working Time Regulations, introduced this summer, have provided greater protection for some groups, including young workers and those working in the transport sector.

LRD's latest publication, Working time - a guide to the regulations, explains all the changes to the regulations since they were introduced in 1998, showing how rights such as the maximum 48-hour week, 20 days' paid holiday and regular rest breaks work in practice. Various exemptions and exclusions make this a complex area of employment law, and this latest LRD booklet explains the rights clearly, using case examples to illustrate the law.

Unions have since the start opposed the "opt-out" in the UK regulations that allows individual workers - or their employers - to avoid the provisions for a maximum 48-hour working week . However, with a review of the opt-out currently under way by the European Commission, it is now a good time to negotiate with the employer over reducing working hours.

Working hours are continuing to increase, despite the legislation, according to the latest evidence. A survey just published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development shows that the proportion of those working more than 40 hours a week has more than doubled in the past five years, with the working week for women increasing by half a day. Working time - a guide to the regulations provides further evidence of long-hours working, and the health and safety consequences of doing so.

It is therefore very important that union representatives raise the issue of working time with employers. The regulations allow the provisions on working time to be varied by collective, workforce or other "relevant" agreement. Working time - a guide to the regulations explains how these provisions can be used to negotiate better working conditions covering:

* who and what is covered by the Working Time Regulations;
* the maximum working week;
* night work and shift working;
* rest periods and breaks; and
* paid holidays, including bank holidays .

Notes to editors

1. Working time - a guide to the regulations is published by the Labour Research Department, 78 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HF, price ?4.25 or ?10.50 for employers or commercial organisations. LRD booklets are also available on subscription at an annual cost of ?29.50 (?73.95 for employers/ commercial organisations). LRD publishes 10-11 booklets each year.

2. The Labour Research Department is an independent trade union and labour movement organisation founded 90 years ago. Around 1,800 trade union organisations, including 55 national unions, representing 99% of total TUC membership, are affiliated.

3. For press enquiries on this booklet contact Lewis Emery on 020 7902 9807. To order copies of the booklet telephone 020 7928 3649.

4. Full information about all of LRD's services and publications is available on the LRD website at www.lrd.org.uk.

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