Patricia Hewitt, trade and industry secretary, will this week pledge to end the long working hours culture in Britain within the next five years, according to reports in the national press.
The news comes as the Trade Union Congress publishes a report revealing that one in six UK workers – around four million – clocks up more than 48 hours in a working week.
Unions, keen to see the end of Britain’s opt out from European Union law limiting working hours, will be disappointed – despite Hewitt’s pledge the government is reported to want to retain this exemption.
John Monks, TUC general secretary, said: ‘Britain?s long hours culture is a national disgrace. It leads to stress, ill health and family strains. But even worse it’s an indictment on how badly we manage work in the UK.’
Last summer the DTI set up a work-life balance taskforce to come up with proposals dealing with long working hours.
It had been expected to publish proposals in November of last year.
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