On 17 December 2008 the European Parliament controversially voted in favour of abolishing the working time opt-out. The vote went against the decision of EU Employment Ministers earlier in the year, when they voted to retain the opt-out, albeit under stricter conditions designed to protect workers’ health and safety. Ministers and MEPs are now in a conciliation period to try and reach agreement. Employers will be encouraged by a recent Opinion from the European Commission in which it rejected Parliament’s proposals to abolish the opt-out, although it said it was supportive of its being phased out eventually. Some commentators are concerned that the talks may collapse if agreement is not reached soon because MEPs are likely to become distracted by campaigning for the 2009 European elections. The good news for UK employers is that if the negotiations fail the current Directive with its opt-out provisions is likely to remain in place.