Worker’s rights post-Brexit


Chuka Umunna sends a letter to the Prime Minister seeking assurance that worker’s rights will be protected following BREXIT

As former Shadow business secretary and a former practising employment solicitor, and as part of the REMAIN campaign, Chuka Umunna has sent a letter to the Prime Minister Theresa May. He is seeking her express assurance that precious employment rights will be protected in the event of BREXIT.   This is part of a new cross-party group set up by pro-REMAIN MP’s seeking commitments on these rights.

Chuka was being interviewed on LBC Radio on Monday morning where he explained that he had commissioned the House of Commons library to list the employment rights that currently arise as a result of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union and which he believes are at risk in the event of BREXIT.

The starting point is the European Communities Act 1972 which will need to be repealed and if this happens then a raft of employment rights could go with it, unless domestic legislation is introduced to preserve and enshrine those rights.

EU orientated laws such as the Working Time Regulations which for example introduces 20 days statutory annual leave, compulsory rest breaks and protections for night workers could be at risk.   Employment rights emanating from the European Acquired rights Directive and which are commonly referred to as TUPE are also at risk.  These protect workers where businesses are sold or contracts retendered and which make it unlawful to dismiss them as a result of the transfer of these businesses and contracts.

Laws relating to equal treatment for agency workers after 12 weeks are also at risk as these also emanate from the European Union.

In his letter, Chuka states ‘You have said repeatedly that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ …but you must now begin to set out what this means. You owe it to the working people of Britain to make clear that the pledges made by your cabinet colleagues to retain EU legislation on worker’s rights will be delivered.  Anything else will be a betrayal of British workers, whether they voted to leave the EU or remain a member’.

It is likely that the level of protection afforded to workers is so woven into the DNA of UK employment law that any wholesale removal would be unacceptable to many Employers and would most certainly not be a vote winner.

Nonetheless it will be interesting to see if and how the Prime Minister responds and whether in the long term BREXIT really does affect these rights.

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