The TUC has called on the Prime Minister Theresa May to face down reported attempts by members of her Cabinet to scrap the Working Time Directive after Brexit.
Both the Sunday Times and The Sun have reported plans by ministers – including Michael Gove and Boris Johnson – to get rid of the Directive – a piece of EU legislation which gives workers the right to 5.6 weeks in paid holidays each year, rest breaks, and rest of at least 11 hours in any 24 hours; restricts excessive night work; a day off after a week’s work; and provides for a right to work no more than 48 hours per week, although UK employees have a voluntary opt-out on the latter. The TUC says women who work part time or on zero hours could particularly suffer if the directive is scrapped.
The TUC says: “The Prime Minister has repeatedly promised that working people won’t lose important rights when we leave the EU, but we’ve always known there are many in her party who see Brexit as an opportunity to cut regulations as far as they can.
““The Working Time Directive gave nearly five million women paid holidays for the first time. This is a straight-up attack on our rights at work, and the PM needs to face down this plot in her own cabinet. No-one voted for Brexit to lose out on holidays, or to hand power over to bad bosses.
“We’re calling her out on this. If she won’t stick to her promises now, it’ll open the floodgates for the hard-brexiteers to cut back even more of our rights at work.”
Legal experts say any change in the legislation would not have an immediate effect on existing employees as their rights are enshrined in their contracts. However, new employees could be affected.
Theresa May was asked repeatedly in the House of Commons about workers’ rights and specifically about the Working Time Directive and gave a general response that she did not intend to water down workers’ rights after Brexit.