The UK’s decision to refuse to ban the opt out of the 48 hour working week has been dismissed as "profoundly undemocratic".

That is the view of Carolyn Jones, director of The Institute of Employment Rights (IER), who said that more than 400 MPs had voted to end the opt-out but had their decision overturned by the council of ministers.

Ms Jones said that she did not agree with the argument that by opting for longer hours businesses could improve productivity.

She said: "You don’t get high productivity by slaving people through long hours. It doesn’t work.

"Figures show the complete opposite. High productivity is based on looking after the health and wellbeing of your workforce."

According to Ms Jones, British workers suffer with the longest hours and the least holiday of any European country, which she called a "disgrace".

Currently the employment rules in the UK stipulate that those aged 18 and over can work more than 48 hours a week if they voluntarily opt out of the limit.