Brexit Begins – What Next for Workers’ Rights?
Well, the time has come and the countdown has begun. I wrote an article recently on the possible effect of Brexit on workplace health and safety laws.
One of the main points in my article was that EU law has significantly bolstered workplace health and safety protection. There are EU-based health and safety laws which sit alongside our previous and longstanding protection. If someone suffers an accident at work the courts will look at both the UK and EU health and safety laws.
There seem to be mixed messages coming from the Government and through the media about the future of EU laws within our legal system. On the one hand we hear of a “Great Repeal Bill” to switch EU laws into our own, which would seem to suggest everything will stay the same and on top of that a supposed promise by the Government to not water down worker’s rights.
On the other hand there is talk of ditching excessive EU regulations which will supposedly help British business thrive (though if there is an increase in workplace injuries and then sick days this could be counter-productive).
The point is you can’t have it both ways: we either match the EU laws or we remove them and start from scratch. Clarity from the Government would be welcome but with so many laws passed by the EU throughout the decades of our membership, starting from scratch could take many years, potentially decades.
In my recent article I wrote about a 2013 law introduced by the David Cameron administration which was designed to weaken the effect of EU health and safety laws in the UK workplace and therefore offer workers less protection.
Further to that, the dramatic increase in Employment Tribunal and general court fees have led to many workers not being able to pursue genuine injury at work cases against their employers.
It could well be that the spotlight on the Government now acts as a safeguard as any further reduction in workers’ rights directly linked to Brexit may come under scrutiny, but what about the harm done over the past few years? Will those damaging changes be reversed?