The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has welcomed a decision made recently in Luxembourg to allow UK employers to keep the right to request staff to work more than a 48-hour week.

Under the new Working Time Directive, while employees in most countries have a maximum working week of 48 hours, a clause enables European Union member states to choose to allow people to work more hours.

"Some countries wanted to deny British workers the right to choose their own working hours, but that attempt has failed and we have retained this key aspect of our flexible labour markets," stated CBI deputy director-general John Cridland.

Meanwhile, business secretary John Hutton also praised the decision, saying that securing the right for people to work longer hours if they choose is "hugely valuable" to the UK economy.

He added that flexibility has been "critical" to Britain’s ability to create an additional three million jobs over the last ten years.