MPs will debate the future of EU-derived workers’ rights in an Opposition Debate tabled for Monday (25 January 2021) after Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, admitted his department is reviewing employment law originating from the EU.
Last week, the Financial Times reported that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was consulting with business leaders on plans to dilute workers’ rights to rest breaks, holiday pay and a cap on the number of hours their employer could make them work.
While Kwarteng admitted the consultation was under way, he insisted that it was not intended to “whittle down” employment standards, despite the fact he and fellow Cabinet Ministers Priti Patel, Dominic Raab and Liz Truss famously coauthored a report that described British workers as “idlers” who should work harder and longer.
In a bid to seek clarity on the government’s intentions, the Labour Party will use Opposition Day on Monday to force a vote on specifically ruling out any changes to the 48-hour working week, rest breaks and the entitlement to accrue holiday pay on overtime hours, all of which originate from from the EU Working Time Regulations.
They will also use the debate to push for new laws to ban fire and rehire tactics, which have become a serious issue for thousands of workers during the pandemic, with employers threatening to sack them if they do not agree to poorer pay and conditions.
“In the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis, Ministers are considering ripping up workers’ rights. This could see people across the country worse off, losing out on holiday pay and working longer hours.” Andy McDonald, Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights and Protections, said.
“The government should be focused on securing our economy and rebuilding the country, not taking a wrecking ball to hard-won rights.”