Theresa May pledges to maintain existing workers’ rights after Brexit

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Theresa May

Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to retain existing workers’ rights after leaving the European Union.

She said the government will not reduce the current standards of protection contained in EU laws and will ensure that new legislation changing those laws will be assessed to ensure they uphold this commitment.

Parliament, trade unions and businesses will all be given an enhanced role in shaping employment law. This will be achieved in various ways:

· parliament to be given a vote on adopting future EU rules on workers’ rights
· government will consult with trade unions and businesses on future workers’ rights proposals
· new proposals including a single enforcement body to protect vulnerable and agency workers
· new parliamentary power to build on the Good Work Plan, announced last year.

Parliament will be given the right through the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to consider any future changes in EU law that strengthen workers’ rights or workplace health and safety standards, and vote on whether they too should be adopted into UK law.

The measures will require Parliament to be given regular updates on changes to EU legislation in this area and give MPs a say on the action government should take in response, including whether the UK should remain aligned with the EU. In preparing those updates, it will consult with trade unions, businesses and the relevant select committees of Parliament.

This new process will start with two EU Directives that come into force after we have left and following the Implementation Period – the Work Life Balance Directive and the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive.

The government has voted in favour of both directives in the European Council and intends to ask Parliament if it wants to adopt them into UK law.

The Work Life Balance Directive introduces new rights for parents and carers, such as 2 months’ paid leave for each parent up until the child is 8, and 5 days of leave for those caring for sick relatives.

The Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive will set the terms of employment for workers by their first working day. The government is already committed to many of these measures.

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Mrs May said: “After Brexit it should be for Parliament to decide what rules are most appropriate, rather than automatically accepting EU changes. When it comes to workers’ rights this Parliament has set world-leading standards and will continue to do so in the future, taking its own decisions working closely with trade unions and businesses.”