UK companies voice support for rollback of EU workers’ rights

Employers seek change on discrimination and holiday pay


Companies taking part in a recent survey on EU employment rights say they want to use Brexit to ‘roll back’ EU employment rights.

The survey conducted by GQ Employment Law found that more than 70 per cent of the 43 firms said they wanted to end EU rules which allow workers who are on long-term sick leave to ‘roll over’ their holiday pay, while 65 per cent said they wanted to see changes to discrimination laws.

The survey showed that one in three companies wanted to cap the amount employment tribunals can award workers in discrimination and equal pay cases, and 56 per cent want the requirement to pay employees average pay for holidays (won through legal action brought by Unite) to be reversed.

While the research found that only five per cent of businesses were looking for major change in employment law after Brexit, 65 per cent of employers were looking to see some changes.

Paul Quain, Partner at GQ Employment Law said,

“The hope is likely to be that Brexit is seen as an opportunity to improve UK employment laws — making them as efficient, but also as fair, as possible to both employers and employees. Whilst in the grand scheme of things employment law is unlikely to be a key area of focus, it will be interesting to see what changes are, in fact, introduced — and how these are received by the UK’s business community.”

This survey (although it is limited in its scope) shows the negative thinking of some employers and there is no doubt ardent Brextremists will point to this research as evidence of the need to roll back EU employment laws.

However in discussions with the major UK manufacturing associations, on the issue of Brexit, many have told Unite that they see no need to make changes and are not seeking to change or scrap EU legislation after Brexit.

As most companies apply the rules, find them workable and have got used to them and see that any attempt to remove EU legislation will cause unnecessary industrial disruption at a time of uncertainty caused by Brexit.

Tony Burke is assistant general secretary of Unite

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3 Responses to “UK companies voice support for rollback of EU workers’ rights”

  1. Ewan from Swansea

    Thanks, Tony. A thoughtful piece.

    It’s worth noting that large employers have almost *always* fought against improvements to workers’ rights, from the Industrial Revolution to the present day. Many big companies today are violating or misinterpreting existing laws in order to cut labour costs: Uber, Sports Direct, Debenhams… the full list is here:

    This doesn’t mean we need to change employment laws, but rather challenge the narrative that “What’s good for General Motors is good for the US.” Or in our country, I suppose, “What’s good for Sports Direct…”

  2. Bill Rollinson

    This comes as no surprise, we fought long and hard for rights, even before we joined the EEC, we gave women equality in 1970 and they haven’t gained an inch since.
    We have these laws on our Statute Book, so why not repeal ECA 1972 and bring back UK Common Law and all our rights?

  3. Martyn

    It’s untrue to say that women haven’t “gained an inch” – thanks to the EU my wife and thousands of other women won the right to belong to an employer’s pension scheme from which she had been excluded as a part-time worker. It was also thanks to the unions which spear-headed that fight.

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