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Small practices to ignore EU's flexible working rules

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Many small practices will ignore new European Union regulations on working conditions that came into force last Wednesday, the RIBA has warned.

Vice-president for practice Richard Saxon predicted 'scores of architects' will fail to respond to the Working Time Directive, which guarantees many parents the right to flexible working.He said many smaller offices would not adhere to the new rules because 'a lot of administration and regulation' will prove a 'real problem' for practices. 'This stems from benign neglect, ' he said. 'Firms do not actively avoid the rules, they are simply unable to maintain them because of time and cost.'

Saxon also warned that failure to comply will 'encourage critics to label architecture institutionally sexist'. 'Practices maintain student working conditions and expect all their employees, including new mothers, to follow suit, ' he said.

George Pace of Dunthorne Parker, a small London-based practice, said that although his firm is well informed about the regulations, many offices will see them as problematic. 'Small practice is a tenuous existence at the best of times, ' he said.

'The concern is that these regulations result in more staff taking cash out of the company without doing any work.'

A Department of Trade and Industry spokesman described the new regulations as 'highly important', stressing that all firms should make every effort to comply.

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