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TUC: Great Repeal Bill must make good on PM’s promise to fully protect workers’ rights

Ahead of the publication of the Great Repeal Bill white paper today (Thursday), TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The Great Repeal Bill is the Prime Minister’s chance to make good on her promise to fully protect and maintain all workers’ rights that come from the EU. 

“These are rights we all rely on – like rules to guarantee safe workplaces, equal pay for women, protection from excessive working hours, and rights to equal treatment for agency workers.

“The TUC will be watching closely to make sure that every workplace right that comes from the EU is protected – now and into the future.

“To honour her repeated public promise to protect workers’ rights, the Prime Minister should put a clause in the Bill that ensures that her government can’t use antiquated Henry VIII powers to go back and punch holes in worker protections on the quiet, without parliamentary scrutiny.

“And the Prime Minister must also ensure protecting workers’ rights is at the heart of the UK’s future trade deal with the EU. The UK should sign up to a level playing field with our EU partners – not a race to the bottom on workplace rights. We don’t want hardworking Brits to miss out on new rights that workers in other European nations get.” 

Notes to Editors:

  • “We will ensure that workers’ rights are fully protected and maintained. Indeed, under my leadership, the Government will not only protect the rights of workers but build on them.” Theresa May, 29 March 2017
  • In recent decades, the European Union has proved an important source of rights for working people in the UK, including:
    • Key health and safety standards
    • Rights to paid holidays and protection from excessive working hours
    • Family friendly rights, including rights to paid maternity leave, protection from dismissal for pregnant women and rights to parental leave
    • Equality rights, including rights to equal pay for work of equal value, and protection from discrimination on grounds of gender, race, sexual orientation, pregnancy, disability, age and religion, and belief
    • Protections for young workers, part-time workers, agency workers and those on fixed-term contracts
    • Protections for outsourced workers
    • The right to be consulted on collective redundancies, and for unions to present an alternative
    • Measures supporting information and consultation at a national and European level
    • Rights to paid facility time for safety reps and workplace reps
    • Protections for migrant and posted workers
    • In spring 2016, the TUC commissioned Michael Ford QC to write an independent opinion on the impact of Brexit on workers’ rights. It can be viewed here https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/Brexit%20Legal%20Opinion.pdf
  • It is expected that the Great Repeal Bill will preserve existing employment related regulations which would otherwise fall when the European Communities Bill (ECB) is repealed. This includes the Working Time Regulations, which were introduced exclusively under the ECB, the Agency Worker Regulations, TUPE Regulations and equal treatment rights for fixed term employees which were introduced under a combination of the ECA and other Acts of Parliament.
  • The TUC believes that the Great Repeal Bill should include a non-regression clause which ensures that the government cannot use powers set out in the Bill – including Henry VIII style powers – to weaken or repeal employment or equality laws.


Press Office  T: 020 7467 1248  E: media@tuc.org.uk


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