Ministers must come clean on plans to scrap 800 laws and promise not to touch workers’ rights – TUC

Holiday pay, rest breaks, equal pay for women and men and other essential rights still at risk

4 May 2023| News

Commenting on reports in the FT that the government is set to abandon plans to rip up EU-derived laws, TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said:

“After countless warnings from unions, business and environmental groups – the government is finally having second thoughts about its disastrous plan to rip up hard-won workers’ rights. But with 800 laws still being scrapped at the end of the year, ministers must now come clean on their plans and give firm commitments that they will not touch our hard-won workers’ rights.

Holiday pay, rest breaks, equal pay for women and men – these are just some of our essential rights that are still at risk. And the Bill could upend decades of case law – making it harder for workers to enforce their rights in the court – as well as creating chaos and confusion in the legal system.

This is not the first time ministers have threatened to take a wrecking ball to key worker protections – and then been forced to u-turn under pressure. Unions won’t rest until we know our vital rights at work are safe. It’s time to dump this bill in its entirety.”

On government failure to boost workers’ rights, the TUC General Seceretary added:

“This Conservative government promised voters they would boost workers’ rights – now is the time to deliver. That means scrapping the draconian anti-strikes bill and protecting the right to strike. It means bringing forward long overdue laws to tackle sexual harassment – not backsliding under pressure from backbenchers. And it means banning zero-hours contracts, fire and rehire and other shady employment practices that rob workers of their dignity.”

British voters want stronger rights

The TUC says British voters across the political spectrum want stronger workers’ rights.

Recent TUC polling – conducted by Opinium – showed that two in three (66%) Conservative voters support retaining EU-derived workers’ rights, along with seven in ten (68%) who voted to leave the European Union.

The polling also showed the majority of Tory voters back a ban on zero hours contracts (56%), fair pay agreements to get pay rising across whole industries (60%), banning fire and rehire (64%) and boosting gig workers’ rights (60%).

Health and safety concerns

Unions, employers, and occupational health and safety bodies have on Friday joined forces to slam the Retained EU Law Bill as dangerous legislation which threatens to rip up key workplace safety protections.

In a joint letter to ministers, 25 organisations including the TUC, British Safety Council, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development and Institution of Occupational Safety and Health set out why the Bill is dangerous.

They highlight three key examples of significant pieces of legislation that are at risk from this Bill:

  • The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Currently 5,000 people a year die in Great Britain from asbestos-related diseases. These regulations provide a vital framework for the management of asbestos including for building owners and those removing it.
  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This is a core element of the country’s health and safety regime and includes requirements on conducting risk assessments, appointing competent people and arranging training.
  • Work at Height Regulations 2005. These protect workers by requiring proper planning of work, that those undertaking the work are competent and impose duties to avoid risks from fragile surfaces, falling objects and danger areas.

The TUC, employers, and occupational health and safety bodies say the Bill is of “enormous concern” because “workplace health and safety can be a matter of life and death”.