Talks have broken up without agreement over the opt-out to the maximum 48-hour working week contained in the European Working Time Directive, which Britain and a number of other European Union (EU) countries possess.
Ministers from EU member governments had been at odds with MEPs as the former have been looking to retain the opt-out, whereas the European parliament recently voted for its abolition.
The news means that Britain's opt-out will remain in place, something that may interest employers.
Welcoming the news, business secretary Peter Mandelson said: "Millions of people are better off because of the opt-out and I am relieved we have been able to resist its removal."
Commenting on the decision, business director of the British Retail Consortium Jane Milne said the move would be good for employees, as it would give them the "freedom" to work extra hours and get more pay.
Published on: April 29, 2009