Transport Coping Without Opt Out
The Freight Transport Association says that the prospective cost
to UK industry of losing the opt out to the Working Time Directive and
restricting working hours to 48 per week will obviously be enormous.
However, lessons can be learned from the transport industry, which has been
operating the Road Transport Directive since 4 April this year with no opt-out.
Despite the undoubted problems and costs, early signs indicate that the
transport sector is coping with the problems.
Reducing working hours to 48 will clearly impact on the whole of UK industry,
including some workers involved in transport, notably van operators and drivers.
During the last two years the Freight Transport Association has been engaged
in an education and information process aimed at its members and others
throughout the transport industry and designed to alleviate, as far as possible,
the operational problems coming from reduced hours and the consequent cost
increases. The government’s own impact assessment report suggested a loss of
productivity of close to ten per cent, coupled with a cost of around Â£1 billion.
FTA negotiations with government resulted in more flexible regulations than
had been expected and when combined with a comprehensive programme of training
and information, the production of support and advice for record keeping and a
general handholding process, much has been possible to help member companies to
understand and cope with the problems.
Transport has led the way in dealing with the worst effects of the
legislation and will provide the most practical and valuable case study of ‘how
to live with the WTD’ if the opt-out is finally withdrawn from the UK. Transport
operators have already begun to implement the changes necessary for life without
the opt-out by installing time and attendance systems, which
accurately report employees’ working time.