Brexit: No comfort from Government on safeguarding of employment rights

Matthew Pennycook, Labour MP for Greenwich and Woolwich recently posed a written question to the Minister for the Department for Exiting the European Union, as follows: “whether he plans to give domestic effect to the Acquired Rights Directive 2001/23/EC through the forthcoming Repeal Bill”. The Acquired Rights Directive includes the rights we have under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (aka TUPE, the protection from dismissal when a business changes hands). This is a key area of protection provided by our current employment law, of which many of our readers will be aware. Many are concerned that with the pound so weak, foreign businesses will be able to purchase British businesses with relative ease, and losing this key protection could result in major job losses for workers within the British economy.

David Jones MP responded, somewhat unsatisfactorily, stating that the Great Repeal Bill "…will convert existing European Union law into domestic law, wherever practical". Later, during a House of Commons debate on the subject, Greg Clark (BEIS Minister) said instead that the government had "no intention of having a sunset clause" to remove the current layer of protections afforded to workers (a sunset clause being a date included in an Act, say, that gives a date by which the law shall cease to have effect unless further legislation is enacted to change the law).  The Bill is due to be introduced in the next parliamentary session but until then we all remain largely in the dark as to the government’s intentions with regard to employment law rights.

Meanwhile, the GMB General Secretary, Tim Roache, has called on the Prime Minister to give a "cast-iron guarantee" on the safeguarding of workers' rights, and Melanie Onn MP is has submitted a Private Members’ Bill entitled ‘Workers' Rights (Maintenance of EU Standards) Bill 2016-17’ which is attempting to safeguard workers’ rights derived from EU legislation after Brexit, and other purposes connected to that.

Published: 25 November 2016

Article Sections: International Issues

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