“Many important employment and health and safety rights are at risk”
Lancashire County Councillor Julie Gibson, the Labour Group Shadow Cabinet Member for Economic Development has urged the Government not to sacrifice important employment and health and safety rights as it looks to pass the “Retained EU Law (revocation and reform) Bill” – more commonly known as the “Brexit Freedoms Bill” through Parliament. There are concerns that the Bill could sweep aside many important employment rights, such as paid holidays, equal pay and rights to annual leave.
Cllr Gibson explained: “When the UK left the European Union, these rights were maintained as “retained EU law” giving parliament the power to amend or scrap these measures. The Brexit Bill, as it stands, overturns these rights by revoking all EU legislation that was incorporated into UK law. For example, under current employment law in cases of equal pay, women have been able to use as a comparator, better paid men who work in the same business. If this right is taken away, many women who suffer sex based unequal pay will no longer be able to bring claims.
She continued: “But there are also concerns around health and safety. As an example, construction and building safety has long been recognised as a higher risk industry. The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM), based on an EU directive, creates a framework for securing the health and safety of people during and after construction projects. But take CDM away where does that leave health and safety in construction?
Cllr Gibson said: “The government needs to restate or replace the secondary legislation that is due to expire but it is worrying when we have senior conservatives, such as those in the European Research Group, urging the PM to “get on with it” or face accusations of weakness. If that is the prevailing mood within the Tory Party, I’m not exactly confident that defending workers’ rights will be top of the agenda.
“Back when he was Prime Minister, Boris Johnson promised us an “oven ready deal” yet nearly seven years on we have more of an “oven ready turkey.” Do we really want to see a return to a time when workers had no protection in law? No right to paid time off, no right to breaks in work? I urge the Government to act to ensure these rights are retained in UK legislation.”