Changes to employee rights on cards after Brexit

By Claire Churchard contact

- Last updated on GMT

EU exit: employee rights could change after Brexit
EU exit: employee rights could change after Brexit

Related tags: Working time directive, Prime minister, Cabinet

EU rules that protect employee holidays, ensure regular rest breaks and limit excessive overtime could be scrapped by ministers after Brexit, according to reports.

Senior ministers Michael Gove and Boris Johnson are reported to be backing plans to ditch the Working Time Directive (WTD), which lays out employment rights for staff, according to The Sunday Times and Sun newspapers.

The issue is expected to be discussed at a full cabinet meeting today.

However, the TUC warned that the end of the WTD when the UK leaves the EU would mean that “seven million workers could lose rights to paid holidays – 4.7 million of them women, and many on zero-hours or part-time contracts”.

Overtime and breaks

The directive also prevents staff from working more than 48 hours a week and preserves entitlements to lunch and rest breaks. For employees working night shifts the end of the WTD could mean reduced health and safety protections, the TUC said.

In Parliament yesterday, Labour MPs urged the Prime Minister to guarantee that the UK would retain the principles of the WTD after Brexit.

Theresa May said the rules would be transposed into the UK statute book before Brexit but she would not confirm whether the main tenets of the directive would remain in place after March 2019, only saying she was committed to “maintaining and enhancing workers’ rights” in general.

'Attack on rights at work'

Commenting on the reported plans to scrap the WTD, general secretary of the TUC Frances O’Grady said: “This is a straight-up attack on our rights at work. Millions could lose their paid holidays, and be forced to work ridiculously long hours.

“The Working Time Directive gave nearly five million women paid holidays for the first time. No-one voted for Brexit to lose out on holidays, or to hand power over to bad bosses.

“The Prime Minister promised that our working rights would be protected after Brexit. Now we will see if she can keep her word, or if she is a hostage to extremists in her own cabinet.”

Related topics: Legislation

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