Impact of Working Time Directive on Employment Relations

Working Title: Enough Hours in the Day? The Impact of the working time directive on the regulation of employment relationships within the UK and France.

Research Question: What is the working time directive? How does it purport to effect employment relationships? Will it be implemented in the United Kingdom? How does France deal with it? What are the reasons the UK have such a conservative approach?

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Literature Review:

The review is centred on the Working Time Directive and thus will build on a direct reading of this from primary sources such as the copy on, this will be complemented by secondary sources such as those of Cooke & Hey (1998), Ramsey (1994) and the House of Lord’s Select Committee on the European Union’s response to the Working Time Directive.

In attempting to build up a more sophisticated and rounded understanding of the ideas and theories that inform working time in general and the working time directive in particular I will use sources such as Figart & Golden (2000), Fagan (2001) and direct readings of the reports of the European Commission on Working Time including the outcome of the current review of the Working Time Directive Opt-Out. A detailed critique with wider European policy will be effected in particular using commentaries on EC Law and it’s emphasis on trade and industry concerns.

In reviewing the current situation within the UK I will use reviews of the Working Time Regulations 1998 in particular drawing on Christie (1998), the Income Data Service’s Guide to Working Time (2002) and Rankin et al. (1999)’s excellent guide to the operation of the Regulations within the UK and the changes that they brought to the existing law.

I will then review the current position within France, there are numerous sites through which to do research, I can certainly use Figart & Golden (2000)’s section on French Working Time and although slightly dated Carley (1991)’s review will help get an understanding of French policy and how it has changed towards working time. There are also numerous academic articles on the web such as those on the Transport News Network website (, French Law Sites such as and articles by Sarfati (1999). Further research will be required on this issue in particular looking at pressure groups and governmental responses. In doing this I’ll try and use French language sites such as , and trade union sites. Obviously these will be supplementary and will require translation.

In reviewing the policy objections of the UK to the abolition of the opt-out we will draw on primary sources such as the DTI ‘s recent consultation paper on Working Time ( / er / work_time_regs /) as well as the work of pressure groups such as the TUC, Transport & General Workers Union, Employer’s Organisation for Local Government and other major employers that would be effected by a change such as Alfred McAlpine. These will give me statistics and sophisticated points of view which I can then critically assess in light of more academic work on working time such as Articles by Christie (1998), Grisenthwaite (1997) and Wynn (2000). We will contrast these to the positive experience of the French in its implementation of a fixed working time week. A detailed critique of the two positions will be required with more academic sources from the journals and books will be required.

Further research is required to uncover academic work on the policy arguments in France, whilst Sarfati (1999)’s arguments do shed some light on the issue there is most definitely a need for more detailed research. I believe that research into journals such as the International Company & Commercial Law Review and the European Law Review will reveal more information about the arguments. This will be on top of the substantive law information I extract from the sources mentioned above.

In concluding I will attempt to draw together the policy stances and implementation methods of the two countries to develop a more holistic understanding of whether there is significant social differences to justify the diversion or whether there can be a unified theory of working time that can be agreed not just in the European context but in the worldwide sense. There will need to be more research done on this issue along the avenues of looking at pressure groups in America (such as the Canadian / American ‘Take Back Your Time’ initiative) and other countries building on the work in Figart & Golden (2000)


There will be some reviewing of primary sources but the work will be academic and theoretical and therefore will largely draw on scholastic secondary sources as I have detailed above.


Carley, Mark – Working time in Europe : the duration and flexibility of working time in 17 European countries from European Industrial Relations Review Eclipse Group / 1991

Cooke, Peter & Hey, Liz – Implementation of the Working Time Directive 1998 ICCLR 164

Christie, David – A Brief History of Working Time 1999 SLT 315

Fagan, Collette – Gender, employment and working time preferences in Europe Office for Official Publications of the European Communities / 2001

Figart, Deborah & Golden, Lonnie Working Time: International Trends, Theory & Policy Perspective Routledge / 2000

Grisenthwaite, Michael – Time Runs out on the UK Government for implementing the ’48-hour working time directive” ’ 1997 ICCLR 107

House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union The Working Time Directive : a response to the European Commission’s review The Stationery Office 2004 / 9th Session 2003/2004

Income Data Service Working Time 2002 / London: Income Data Service

Ramsey, L – The Working Time Directive 1994 EurLR 528

Rankin, Claire, Phillips, Annelise & Warren, Martin – Working Time Regulations 1998 : a practical guide London Stationery Office / 1999

Sarfati, Hedva – The 35-hour week legislation hotly debated in France

Wynn, Michael – Derogations In The Working Time Regulations 2000 CL 166 / er / work_time_regs /)


9th June 2005

Date Rec’d.Supervisor:

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