Shift workers will be hit by European Court ruling

Working Time Directive needs to be rethought immediately

Strasbourg, 16 March 2006 -- A European Court of Justice ruling today that would prevent workers from taking 'rolled-up holiday pay' highlights how the Working Time Directive is a damaging piece of legislation for the European economy, Sir Robert Atkins MEP, Conservative Deputy Leader in the European Parliament, said today.

He said it was ridiculous that, at a time when Europe's economy was being challenged by China and India, the EU is encouraging its citizens not to work. He said the ruling, which would force all workers to take annual paid leave against their wishes, rather than being paid a notional supplement onto their hourly wage, will affect shift workers and seasonal staff who do not have a 'nine to five' working week.

He said:

"The Working Time Directive has been a disaster for the European economy but now it has been taken to new levels of absurdity. The EU is not going to generate new jobs and wealth by telling people they are not allowed to work if that's what they want.

"The European Court of Justice is not to blame as it is just interpreting what is an incredibly poor piece of legislation. But this case has highlighted the need for the Working Time Directive to be rethought in its entirety.

"Shift or seasonal workers may want to take holiday pay over the course of the year because annual leave would be very difficult to calculate. They do not work a normal nine to five week and the Working Time Directive in its current form ties them into an inflexible holiday pay straightjacket. Many shift workers will be disadvantaged by this ruling."

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