So, What's The Issue In A Nutshell?
As with most everything in Brexit, this is where things get a bit complicated. There are two issues surrounding our employment rights and Brexit. Firstly, we currently have the right to work anywhere in the EU without having to get a visa, something which could be dashed if freedom of movement stops. Secondly, the EU provides a number of protections to our rights at work. These include working a maximum of 48 hours a week, having at least four weeks holiday pay and protections for new mothers, pregnant women. There are also laws to ensure equal pay is a reality.
Right, What Are The UK Saying About It?
There are thousands of EU laws which have an effect on how we live and work here in the UK, and it’s going to be a big process to convert them all into British law. Theresa May has promised that all EU laws on the day of our exit will be converted into UK law. The Government will then be able to amend them after – something which has caused controversy in itself, as the amendments won’t have to go through Parliament. This had led to some criticism laws could be easily watered down. The Trade Union Congress has warned this could hit the most vulnerable – part-time and agency workers, for example, never had any specific protections before the EU.
And The EU? What Do They Think?
Once we leave the EU they’ll have no say in what our employment laws do – or don’t – look like, so there’s little talk from the union on this front. There has, however, been a back and forth about the right to live and work in a country itself, both for EU and UK workers. This is something the European Union does have a view on, as it wants the EU citizens who are working in the UK to be protected.
Where Have We Got So Far?
In terms of actual employment laws, we won’t see any movement on that until after we leave – unless the Government says otherwise. This also depends on if we stay in the single market or not. With regards to protecting the rights of EU nationals living here, there has been more noise. The Government initially refused to include protection for EU citizens in the UK as part of the bill to leave the EU, which led to a rebellion in the House of Lords. Theresa May has now made an offer to allow those who were living in the country before the vote the chance to stay, but some in the EU say this isn’t enough. It could also mean British people working abroad would be able to stay – but lose the right to move to another European country.