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30 November 2015 0 Comments
Posted in Employment, Opinion

Minister responds to fears about EU opt-outs

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Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond recently appeared to reject suggestions that the UK might be seeking opt-outs from the EU’s employment laws.

The cabinet minister insisted that law-makers in Brussels had a key role in shaping the legislation which applies in the UK workplace.

Mr Hammond was reacting to long-standing rumours that Prime Minister David Cameron is hoping to water down measures such as the Working Time Directive – which sets out rules for working hours, rest breaks and the minimum holiday requirement.

The possibility these rules could be relaxed has drawn fierce criticism from trade union bosses.

However, Mr Hammond, who is known to be among the Eurosceptic members of the cabinet, was quick to pour cold water on the suggestions.

“In the negotiations, we are seeking to ensure that the EU is focused on greater competitiveness, but we also recognise the EU’s important role in protecting employment rights,” he told Parliament.

Mr Cameron is looking to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership ahead of an in/out referendum, set to take place before the end of 2017.

It is thought that he now favours a drive to reduce the burden of “red tape” across all member states, rather than trying to secure special opt-outs for the UK.

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