Workers rights under threat if Brexit happens

25 February 2016

A new report released by the TUC has detailed the workers’ rights that could be threatened if the UK votes to leave the European Union.

UK Employment Rights and the EU is a comprehensive assessment of employment rights in the UK which derive from the EU, and considers the dangers to these rights if we left the EU, which are numerous.

These rights include paid annual leave, time off for antenatal appointments and fair treatment for part-time workers, and are rights used every day by millions of workers. But if the UK votes to leave the EU, there is no guarantee that these rights will be safe, and no one can say what will happen to them.

Decisions on which rights to keep and which rights to cut would be left up entirely to the government—which has already proven itself hostile to the rights of workers through the introduction of the new Trades Union Bill. Any changes could potentially allow employers to cut the benefits and protections workers already have.

Workers’ rights granted by our membership of the EU include the right to twenty days paid holiday a year, the right to not be forced to work longer than 48 hours a week on average, the right to paid time off for antenatal appointments; and protections for pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace, the right to up to 18 weeks' parental leave per child and to time off for urgent family reasons, the right to equal pay for work of equal value between men and women, and the right to equal treatment for part-time, fixed-term and agency workers with other employees.

Also granted are the right for workers' representatives to be informed and consulted on significant changes that could affect jobs, the right to high standards of health and safety at work, protections for workers affected by outsourcing or business buy-outs, and protections from discrimination in the workplace on grounds of sexual orientation, gender, age, and religion or belief.

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP said:

“The EU has brought working rights to millions of people.

“It would be unwise to trust this government over the issue of workers’ rights, as they have persistently attacked junior doctors and trade unions more widely in general.”

Paul Brannen MEP said:

“EU legislation stands as a shield between the working people of Britain and a government which consistently attacks their rights.

“There is no way to know what will happen to workers’ rights in this country if we vote to leave the EU.”

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