Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Tenth Report


APPENDIX 1

Memorandum from the Department of Trade and Industry

Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2001 (S.I. 2001/3256)

1. The purpose of this Memorandum is to respond to two points raised by the Committee at its meeting on 5 November.

2. First, the Committee asked the Department to identify the Community obligations implemented by the above Regulations, and to explain why this information was not included in the Explanatory Note. The Community obligations that underlie these Regulations are the provisions concerning annual leave in Council Directive 93/104/EC concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time. Those obligations were given effect to in the Working Time Regulations 1998 (S.I. 1998/1833), the Regulations that these Regulations amend. In a sense, it is the 1998 Regulations that implement the Directive while these Regulations merely vary the implementing provisions. However, the Department accepts that this is a narrow interpretation of the scope of the requirement to specify Community obligations in explanatory notes, and that it would have been helpful to refer to the relevant directive in the note attached to these Regulations.

3. Secondly, the Committee noted that new regulations 15A(4) of the 1998 Regulations (inserted by regulation 4 of the Regulations under consideration) provides that regulation 15A does not apply to a worker whose employment began on or before 25 October 2001, and that the amending Regulations came into force on 25 October. The Committee asked whether it was intended that new regulation 15A should not apply to a worker whose employment began on that date, and, if so, what was the reason for the exclusion. It was intended that the new regulation should not apply to workers whose employment began on 25 October, but the choice of date has limited significance and was not the result of any extended deliberation. Had the effect of excluding those starting work on the commencement date been to deny a benefit to a particular group of individuals, the exclusion would be open to criticism. However, its effect in fact is to free them from an additional restriction on their ability to take leave. Employers are denied the ability to make use of the restriction in respect of this group, but they are also denied the ability to make use of it in relation to all workers whose employment began before 25 October, who are likely to constitute the majority of their workforce for some time to come. As the 1998 Regulations already give employers power over the dates on which leave is taken, the new provision is a relatively minor facility for them.

9 November 2001


 
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