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Brexit and Europe Brexit and Europe

Maintain British workers’ rights from EU law

Last updated: 08:32am 8 February 2019

Workers’ rights conferred on British citizens from our membership of the EU will remain.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.36

Our verdict

Currently all EU laws take precedence over UK laws, so when we leave the EU those laws will no longer apply. This applies to employment laws too, so this policy recognises the need to maintain the rights of workers when we leave the EU.

Brexit opened up the discussion about whether the UK or EU has the better track record in protecting workers’ rights, and therefore whether Brexit is potentially a good thing or bad thing for workers. As is the case with many Brexit issues, the debate is pretty polarised. Thankfully we’re focussing on the status of the promise, not the debate around it, so let’s look at where things stand.

So far, we know that all EU laws are being transferred into UK law, and the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is the process by which it will all happen. The government has also listed “protecting workers’ rights” as one of the 12 principles in the their Brexit policy paper. It’s worth a read, as it starts:

“UK employment law already goes further than many of the standards set out in EU legislation and this Government will protect and enhance the rights people have at work.”

So the intention is that when all of the EU laws are transferred over to UK law, workers’ rights remain at least intact. The devil will, as always, be in the detail. We’ll be looking for independent reviews once the EU laws are transferred, and of course any other details when the conditions of our exit are finally known. Follow this policy for updates.

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There's always room for debate

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