Earlier this month the Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech in Parliament about Brexit which included a section concerning employee rights and their future post Brexit.
Mrs May confirmed earlier commitments that the Conservative-led government would not be looking to repeal existing rights, and said that it intends to not “ just protect workers’ rights, but extend them.”
Mrs May’s speech included:
“In particular, I believe [Parliament] has a shared determination across this House not to allow the UK leaving the EU to mean any lowering of standards in relation to workers’ rights, environmental protections or health and safety.
I have met Trade Unions and with members from across the House, and my Rt Hon Friend the Business Secretary is leading work to ensure that we fully address all concerns about these vital issues.
We have already made legally-binding commitments to no regression in these areas if we were to enter the backstop – and we are prepared to consider legislating to give these commitments force in UK law.
And in the interests of building support across the House, we are also prepared to commit to asking Parliament whether it wishes to follow suit whenever the EU changes its standards in these areas. And of course we don’t need to automatically follow EU standards in order to lead the way – as we have done in the past under both Conservative and Labour Governments.
The UK has a proud tradition of leading the way in workers’ rights, whilst maintaining a flexible labour market that has helped deliver an employment rate almost 6 percentage points above the EU average.
Successive governments of all parties have put in place standards that exceed the minimums set by the EU.
A Labour government gave British workers annual leave and paid maternity leave entitlements well above that required by the European Union.
A Conservative-led government went further than the EU by giving all employees the right to request flexible working. And I was proud to be the Minister for Women and Equalities to introduce shared parental leave so that both parents are able to take on caring responsibilities for their child – something no EU regulation provides for.
When it comes to workers’ rights this Parliament has set a higher standard before and I believe will do so in the future.”
The government’s commitment to not reduce employee rights post Brexit is not new but the comment about putting to Parliament any future new EU employee rights is and may not be welcome by many employers.