The European Union directive ruling that employees should not work more than 48 hours a week is “against the spirit” of the design industry, according to Design Business Association chairman Jonathan Sands.
The ruling could prove detrimental to the profession, which notoriously relies on designers working irregular and long hours, warns Sands, though he is sceptical about how stringently the directive will be enforced.
Kim Crawford, a director of recruitment agency Major Players, claims: “I would think most designers and account handlers are doing more than 48 hours a week. Design is not a nine-to-five business and I think it would be quite adversely affected by a 48-hour week.” But she also sees the ruling as an opportunity to clamp down on “design sweatshops”.
A Trades Union Congress spokeswoman points out all businesses are under obligation to implement the directive, stressing that employees would have a legal case to refuse working over the 48-hour maximum even though the Government hasn’t brought in UK legislation.
But she claims there is flexibility within the directive and that the 48-hour maximum per week is averaged over a four-month period. “Employers would be foolish to ignore it. They would be putting themselves at risk.”
But Sands says he will not be cutting back on his working week: “I’ll still be doing a 60-hour week no matter what the EC says. I don’t think it’s practical and it’s going to be hard to police it.”