Prime Minister confirms the protection of workers’ rights


Prime Minister Theresa May has this weekend at the start of the Conservative Party Conference given hope to many workers in the UK that current employment laws will be protected, and that new ones will be implemented to reflect modern-day work practices.

Firstly in debating the continuing saga of Brexit the Prime Minister has now confirmed that a Great Repeal Bill will form part of the next Queen’s speech which will ultimately repeal the European Communities Act 1972.  This is the act that many complain has led to the erosion of UK sovereignty and independence over time.

Once the European Communities Act 1972 has been repealed it is envisaged that all current EU laws including EU derived employment laws will become part of UK domestic law and in turn the government is then free to retain or repeal those laws as it sees fit.   The European Court of Justice will also no longer have the overall say on our laws and the British courts will be completely sovereign.

In a new development the Prime Minister has also appointed Matthew Taylor, a former policy chief working under former Prime Minister Tony Blair to review and to look at how to extend worker’s rights in the so called ‘gig’ economy.

In her own words the Prime Minister has said that she wants to be ‘certain that employment regulation and practices are keeping pace with the changing world of work’ which includes the growth in part-time working and the use of self-employed contractors by for example Uber and Deliveroo.

The concern as is evidenced by two test cases this summer, is that many of these self-employed contractors are not eligible for the most basic of legal rights for example the national minimum or living wage, statutory sick pay, and statutory holiday and maternity pay.  The judgments of these two test cases is due to be issued by the Employment Tribunal this autumn.

This review will also focus on zero-hours contracts which are increasing in number and which thanks to companies like Sports Direct have received some very unwelcome publicity and cause for concern.

At a time when worker’s rights were thought to be at risk following Brexit it now seems that the Government is keen to protect and in some instances extend those rights. The devil of course is always in the detail and we will need to await further announcements from the Government as to which specific rights will be protected or extended and which new rights will be introduced.

For more information contact our Employment team.

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