THE TRADES UNION CONGRESS has called on the UK government to change tack following Lord Frost’s departure, and finally deliver on its promise to protect and enhance workers’ rights post-Brexit, one year after the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement came into place.
Writing to Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng in their ministerial capacities, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady called for fresh assurances on workers’ rights – warning that, if pursued, Frost’s review into EU retained law poses a serious threat to hard-won workers’ rights.
O’Grady also notes that the Frost review would inhibit the Prime Minister’s stated objective to “protect and enhance workers’ rights as the UK leaves the EU, making Britain the best place in the world to work.”
Before his resignation, Lord Frost made a statement in Parliament on his proposed review to overhaul the substance and status of laws derived from the EU – many of which underpin important workers’ rights. Frost set out his intention to use an “accelerated process” to repeal retained EU law. The TUC has warned that this could see some essential rights removed or watered down without proper parliamentary scrutiny.
The TUC previously commissioned the legal help of Michael Ford QC to examine the rights at risk post-Brexit, including those strengthened by EU law. The rights include, among others:
- Holiday pay
- Equal pay for women and men
- Parental leave
- Equal treatment for part-time workers
While calling for a reaffirmed commitment from ministers to protect labour rights, O’Grady notes previous comments made by the Business Secretary that “there is no government plan to reduce workers’ rights” which he made following the scrapped BEIS-led review into EU derived rights.
In the letter, O’Grady also calls on the government to finally publish its long-promised Employment Bill at the Queen’s Speech to upgrade workers’ rights. The government has so far failed to bring forward an employment bill despite first promising to do so more than two years ago.
O’Grady warns that without new legislation brought forward, the UK risks falling behind its EU counterparts on labour rights – pointing to new EU commission proposals to clamp down on exploitative practices in platform work.
She cntinued: “One year on since the UK-EU deal came into force, we risk going backwards – not forwards – on rights in the workplace. While our EU counterparts push game-changing new rights for platform workers, our government is flirting with a review which endangers important workers’ rights and legal principles.
“Holiday pay, equal pay for men and women, parental leave and equal treatment for part-timers are just a few of the rights underpinned by retained EU law. These are not a nice-to-have – they are essential.
“If pursued, the Frost review could see these rights removed or watered down without proper scrutiny. It could make it harder for workers to enforce their rights in the court. And it could create chaos and confusion in the legal system.
“Enough is enough. It’s time this government delivered on its promise to protect and enhance workers’ rights post-Brexit. That means bringing forward the long-awaited Employment Bill to end exploitative work practices like zero-hours contracts.”
* Read: Workers’ rights from Europe: the impact of Brexit, Michael Ford QC’s Report for the TUC here.
* Source: TUC