European employment ministers meet today to discuss whether staff should be allowed to work more than 48 hours a week.

The European Working Time Directive, which was enforced in 1993, limits the working week to 48 hours but the UK signed up to an opt-out clause allowing employees to work more than 48 hours if they choose to.

However, last month the European Parliament voted to scrap the opt-out clause.

Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson, who will attend the meeting today, said that he is “committed to protecting the opt-out” and will argue that it should stay.