The Government is attempting to minimise the impact of the Working Time Regulations (WTR) changes on British businesses.

Negotiations are taking place with the European Union to prevent damaging amendments to the directive which could cost employers more than £100 million a year.

Thanks to various European Court of Justice rulings, workers will be able to ask for additional leave if they are sick during a period of planned absence. This also applies to those on maternity and paternity leave. If the annual holiday cannot be taken in the current year, then they are also entitled to carry it over.

The new regulations are scheduled to be introduced in October. However, there are fears that the regulations are open to abuse by employees wanting to gain extra time off. The plans are also in conflict with the Coalition’s aim of reducing the employment law burden on employers.

A spokesperson from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), commented: “No decisions have been taken yet. However, the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, is clear about the need to reduce the burden of regulation on business. We will explore every possible option to protect business from this regulation.”

The Modern Workplaces consultation, which closed last August, is currently under review by BIS. It covered a number of employment issues, including flexible working, parental leave and changes to the WTR.

“We are analysing the results of a consultation and will make our intentions clear in due course,” the spokesperson added.