Unions unimpressed by PM’s pledge on workers’ rights after Brexit

Unions have expressed concerns about the Prime Minister’s promises over employment rights after Brexit.



Unions have expressed concerns over Theresa May’s pledges on employment rights including those linked to work life balance after Brexit.

In an effort to get Labour MPs behind her deal, the Prime Minister has promised a Parliamentary vote on any changes to employment rights after Brexit. The UK government has already committed to enshrine existing EU law on workplace standards into domestic legislation after Brexit.

May says MPs will be able to vote on adopting future EU rules on workers’ rights, that trade unions will be consulted before any future changes are made and that a new single enforcement body will be set up to protect vulnerable and agency workers.

Among the first laws to be affected after Brexit are the Work Life Balance Directive and the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive.

The Work Life Balance Directive, which comes into force in 2020, includes minimum guarantees of two months’ paid leave for parents of children under eight and five days’ paid leave a year for carers and a right to request flexible working for parents of children under eight. The UK argues that it already surpasses EU law in areas such as the right to request flexible working, but unions say that, outside the EU, there is nothing stopping it diluting any employment rights in the future.


Unions are not impressed by the promises so far. The TUC called them “flimsy window dressing”. UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Any guarantees about protecting existing and ensuring future employment rights must be in the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement.

“Anything less, and the promises aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

“European laws have made working in the UK safer and better. Brexit mustn’t mean UK employees become the cheapest to hire and the easiest to fire.

“No-one should be hoodwinked into thinking that this is a good deal for workers. It isn’t.”

The Employment Lawyers Association published a paper last week expressing concern about the prospect of divergence between UK law and EU law after Brexit and a weakening of workers’ rights.

It stated: “Without the government accepting and introducing legislation that makes it clear that, at least in relation to ‘workers rights’ (which will need to be defined), the UK will be bound by Court of Justice of the European Union [CJEU] case law, the Government will not be able to ensure UK ‘workers rights’ keep pace with those of EU workers.”


Comments [2]

  • nuala says:

    I am deeply concerned with what I have just read. Please can someone explain for me the reason why as a parent I am not allowed to care for my child when they are sick without being dismissed. I thought I was allowed to look after my child until she was of an age recognized as being legal i.e. 16 years old. I have been dismissed from my job because I have dared to care for my daughter who was ill.

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