From the TUC

10 workers’ rights #Brexit would risk

25 Feb 2016, By

The EU certainly isn’t perfect. But lurking within all the directives and regulations are a whole set of rights and protections for British workers.

These rights came from the EU, and are guaranteed by the EU. If we vote to leave, they won’t be guaranteed any more, and government ministers can just pick and choose which rights we have.

Here are just ten of the workers’ rights at risk if we leave:

1. Paid holidays

Thanks to EU law, full-time workers are entitled to at least 20 days a year in paid leave. Rightly so. Once the EU law was implemented, SIX MILLION people in the UK gained holidays.

Our American friends across the pond are entitled to NONE, which gives us a taste of how bad things can get without European protections.

One of these men has a legal guarantee under EU law for 20 days annual leave. The other doesn't. Guess which one is smiling.

One of these men has a legal guarantee of 20 days annual leave. The other doesn’t. Guess why only one is smiling.

2. Equal treatment for part-time workers

More and more workers are being forced into casual arrangements like zero-hours contracts and agency work. Unions are campaigning hard to change that, but in the meantime, the EU guarantees that part-timers have the same rights as full-time workers.

3. Rights for new mums

EU law says that people who are about to become mums can have time off for antenatal appointments with their doctors, along with protections to stop them getting the sack for simply becoming pregnant.

4. 18 weeks of parental leave

In addition to paid maternal leave, parents also have the right to take off some unpaid leave to take care of their kid(s). This is obviously a good thing, but it’s especially important for parents with kids who  have a disability.

The same EU law also gives parents time off for urgent family reasons, like a sick child. Not exactly the sort of EU rights which will make headlines, but seriously important all the same.

5. Equal pay for equal work

Obviously we’re not quite at equal pay yet, but it’s listed as a “fundamental right” in the EU, saying that women and men should be paid equally for work of equal value. Until the EU rules in this area, it was extremely difficult to prove that men and women were facing pay discrimination. This is crucial for people who find they’re being underpaid compared to male colleagues, as a member of the Prospect union showed when she took her employer to court over this – and won.

6. Limits on how long you can be forced to work

You’ve just crossed the halfway point of this list. Good for you. Mercifully, you’re now allowed to take a well-deserved break.

Such a break could well be thanks to EU rules. You have a right not to have to work longer that 48 hours a week on average if you don’t want to. This limit gives you space to relax, spend time with your families or just sit on a couch and pleasantly zone out.

7. Being told what’s going on

This is a little trickier to explain. Basically, if you have a union rep or other employee forum at work, employers have a legal responsibility to keep them informed about major changes in the company. Most of the time, this isn’t a right you’ll notice. But if you’re facing job losses or a big restructuring, then it becomes a very important right indeed.

8. Health and safety

Far from the sexiest of issues, I know, but health and safety rules save lives. The EU plays a massive role in ensuring that you’re not put in danger when at work. Not convinced? Perhaps this meaningless stock photo of a man in a hard hat waving a flag will prove our point.



9. Protection if your company is bought out

Hopefully this is a right you’ll never need. But if your the company you work for is sold, the new owners have to respect the same pay and conditions you previously agreed. Unbelievably, this wasn’t even a right until the EU pushed it forward.

10. Protection from discrimination

…on the grounds of religion, sexuality, gender reassignment status, belief, and age. Before the EU rules on this, the UK only had laws for race and gender discrimination.

What does all this mean?

Looking through the list, it’s clear that we still have a lot of work to do. Many of these laws aren’t fully achieved, but we need them as a starting point to make work a safer, better, more equal place to be.

Brexit campaigners will say that these protections could still exist if the UK left the EU. And that’s true, potentially. But it misses the point.

If we leave, your rights would no longer be guaranteed. You’d have to trust government ministers to keep them.

Only last week, minister Michael Gove said that “membership of the EU prevents us being able to change huge swathes of law”. Ominous.

The Tories are going to be in power for at least another four years – do you really trust them with your rights at work?

Set aside all the arguments about how important the EU is for trade, travel and international relations, and just remember this: the EU certainly isn’t perfect, but it is a guarantee for some of your most basic rights at work – both ones that you use every day, and ones that you’d want if things go bad.

Removing that guarantee is one hell of a gamble.

If you want to find out more about the rights at risk, you can read our report on the topic here. It has fewer animated pictures, but far more footnotes and facts.

30 Responses to 10 workers’ rights #Brexit would risk

  1. Phil Graham
    Feb 28th 2016, 12:36 pm

    The inevitable sustained attack on worker rights, conditions and earnings is my overriding concern if brexit prevails.

  2. John
    Feb 28th 2016, 8:27 pm

    Scaremongerers United!!!!

  3. Will
    Feb 29th 2016, 7:43 am

    Good to bring these up and to find someone considering the content of brexitt. However, we have no in/out manifesto so this is slightly loaded in favour of the stay campaign. Personally, I don’t see any party touching workers leave, but feel TUPEE laws and working time directive would vulnerable. H&S might be touched but not a bad thing in some cases.

  4. Andy Lewis
    Feb 29th 2016, 8:09 pm

    Vote out none of these things will change no government in there right mind would remove these things scaremongering on a grand scale

  5. kevin foley
    Mar 2nd 2016, 1:16 pm

    Given a free hand the Tories will make labour as cheap as possible for their funders in big business – as long as 11 million turkeys keep voting for them, anything which runs contrary to the objective of driving wages down will be ditched

  6. Gordon McBean
    Mar 2nd 2016, 6:45 pm

    Sorry but all these things were debated by Parliament and passed into Law, so would need a waste of further Parliamentary time to change any of these. Also before joining the EU how on earth as a progressive, forward looking, Democratic nation did we manage to survive in the world. Sorry but this is scaremongering before the true campaign has officially begun. As far as I’m concerned this is about democracy and accountability where there is a serious lack of this from the EU an organisation that still hasn’t had its accounts signed off in nearly 2 decades due to mismanagement and corruption throughout.

  7. Marvin
    Mar 2nd 2016, 8:45 pm

    This report is laughable! Has anyone ever read the European Laws regarding free movement and rights of workers? It is total chaotic in meaning frequently contradicts itself!
    However, our employment laws have been evolving ever since the Roman period, and particularly so after the Industrial Revolution. The majority of our employment laws have been adopted by Europe for EU legislation. Our employment laws existed before the EU! The only changes that have been added, include the highly controversial discipline procedures, maternity payments and paternity payments. The EU employment laws cover all British laws but now also include free movement and immigration employment.
    For every veiled excuse the pro-EU people can conjure up – there is a vast amount of evidence with which to discredit it..

  8. Marvin
    Mar 2nd 2016, 9:03 pm

    Ah! I have just noted that the above report has been written on behalf of the TUC and the NUJ! Since having had their wings clipped by Thatcher, Unions were having a rather hard time because wages reduced so much and labour became so dispersed and segregated that any union would not have been able to function effectively. The ordinary working class people could not afford to belong to a union and even if they had been able to afford it – the unions were not in a position to be able to do much for them. This is when the legal firms realising the potential, began energetically advertising their services for disenchanted employees on a ‘no win, no fee basis’. The Unions, realising that their profits were rapidly declining, turned their attention to the higher paid employees in the Public Sector and to companies where huge numbers of employees worked together.
    It is not surprising therefore, that they hold such views – since they are themselves operating within a closed and segregated sector!

  9. shaun thomas nicholson
    Mar 2nd 2016, 11:19 pm

    We had better workers rights before the EU… Full-time was 40hrs and any hours longer netted you time and a half with weekends being double time.
    Now employers no longer have to pay over time… And the amount of zero hours agency workers has got to ridiculous amounts. You’re lucky if you can even find a manual job that ISN’T agency.

    Also Unions have lost their power so employers are free to take advantage of their workers.

    All in all workers rights are terrible compared to before the EU

  10. Brexit won't raise wages: why Sir Stuart Rose is wrong
    Mar 4th 2016, 12:30 pm

    […] ensuring British workers have decent rights at work, EU membership requires employers to invest more in their workforces, raising […]

  11. Paul lawday
    Mar 4th 2016, 3:05 pm

    This isn’t scaremongering. One of the things that people don’t know about the Dr strikes is that if the government can say the NHS is working 7 days a week Saturday and Sunday become the same as Monday and so on . This means that they can say the weekend dosent the exist and they won’t have to pay weekend rates of pay. This isn’t happening in the EU and workers rights will suffer under a government with no restraints as there is now .

  12. Dave Rolt
    Mar 4th 2016, 10:45 pm

    So let’s let them nice unelected people in Brussels / Strasberg run our lives for us. Who needs a Union, or UK Government? I can’t believe a Trade Union wants to be subservient to this bureaucratic nightmare. They are only ‘giving’ us what we already have, or could have through the democratic process. The UK must regain its right to self-determination.

  13. Mike Walker
    Mar 4th 2016, 10:51 pm

    These points may be true but my understanding is that both Switzerland and Norway have implemented worker rights same as EU even though they are not members.

  14. Alastair Stephens
    Mar 5th 2016, 7:00 pm

    Most of these things are now being swept away in Greece, at the behest of the EU.

  15. Arthurs Ghost
    Mar 5th 2016, 7:43 pm

    So the IN campaign argues an EU exit would lead to workers pay increasing and the unions argue for continued wage suppression.

    EU membership has lead to the loss of steel, mining and fishing industry jobs.

    Sad to say some of the unions no longer care for the jobs and pay of their members. They are parasites living off the backs of some of the lowest paid in society, using them to fund their political agenda and feather their own nests.

  16. David Waite
    Mar 5th 2016, 8:30 pm

    Good to see some Tory anti-union trolls visiting this page. Lets hope they learn something before spewing their bile.

  17. John Clinton
    Mar 6th 2016, 7:44 pm

    I can’t believe some of the comments made stating that we will still have these rights if we leave the EU. The Tories are already bringing in anti Union legislation that will make it nigh on impossible to strike which means,freed from the restraints of the EU legislation,they will allow employers to make workers work as long as the employer deems fit,take away their rights and then take away any other benefits such as paid holidays and paternity rights. Put together with the Tories plan to redraw constituency boundaries so that they remain in power, then we become not a progressive democratic nation but a regressive dictatorship.
    Anyone who thinks the Tories will protect workers rights after brexit seriously need their heads testing. Just look at the junior doctors dispute for proof. They are now imposing contracts on them despite 96% of junior doctors voting against them. Wake up and smell the coffee Britain.

  18. Andrew Middleton
    Mar 7th 2016, 12:54 pm

    What a load of b***sh*t. Vote OUT.

  19. Graeme Bartley
    Mar 8th 2016, 11:16 am

    The problem i have with the in or out choice is this, if we stay in he EU with veto’s attached by this and previous UK governments the working man’s rights are still being eroded. It seems to me that they want the advantage of the business benefits but not the social benefits which we could all enjoy if we where all in! Therefore, would we be better coming out, and fighting for our social rights at a more local level . Could it strengthen our Unions by galvanising the British people to a common cause, encouraging better business practice and improved rights with a fairer Social charter.
    On the flip side, would it isolate us as a nation, so causing a downturn in economical growth that we end up in an impoverished state. Maybe we are better staying in,but not at its current form, look to stop cherry picking what suits certain parts of society and stop ignoring/vetoing what could benefit all.

  20. Harry
    Mar 8th 2016, 4:52 pm

    What a load of socialist drivel.

    We need to be free of the corrupt and rotting corpse that is the EUSSR.
    Endless demands for money.
    Unable to account for the money it gets.
    Incompetent and stupid.
    Immigrants forcing down wages and forcing the price of houses up.
    Taking hospital beds and social housing.
    How brain dead are our unions?

  21. Harry
    Mar 8th 2016, 4:54 pm

    Michael Pigeon eh?
    Bird brain I think.

  22. S. Horne
    Mar 8th 2016, 9:27 pm

    Scare tactics don’t work. Being a member of the Federal State of Europe has all but eradicated Britains Services and Industries. We hardly own anything now it has all been sold off to EU members. If they own us they can change the rules anytime they want.

  23. David Wainwright
    Mar 10th 2016, 10:36 am

    Yeah the Greeks have been very well protected by the EU and it’s institutions – not.

  24. Brian Wheeler
    Mar 11th 2016, 5:57 pm

    What a load of Garbage. Vote Out.

  25. M Kobble
    Mar 11th 2016, 6:07 pm

    What a load of crap. Does this chap think that because leave the union we abandon all law? No you prat, we take what we have now and have the freedom to change it to our will. And we will democratically elect a government to enact these changes on the basis of their manifesto. Deep!

  26. Denny Holub
    Mar 12th 2016, 1:26 am

    “We can’t let them down by turning our back on the world and cutting British manufacturing and industry off from their largest export market.”

  27. Doug G
    Mar 12th 2016, 9:12 am

    Project Fear is spreading. Never thought I’d see the day that the Unions jumped into bed with Cameron.
    I don’t know about anyone else but I have a contract of employment. If my boss wants to change that REGARDLESS of an EU exit I can say no or sue his ass.
    Grow up, stop trying to scare people into some kind of belief that the EU is a grand protector as it’s not.
    Typical socialism, believing in a model where everyone puts in £1 and wants £2 back!

  28. Lizzie Mc
    Mar 12th 2016, 2:37 pm

    For those who never lived in the UK pre EU, they would not know that we had all these benefits under UK Law. 28Days paid holidays, paid for sick leave with Dr’s Certificate, Time & half for overtime and Double Time for Sundays. No problem with time out for Dr’s appointment or Dentist. Britain was the leader in Health & Safety among other things. It would seem that the post EU people are suffering from Stockhome Syndrome where they have been imprisoned in the EU Culture of false propaganda that they actually believe that the EU has given them these so called Rights. We had more freedom and Rights, including Freedom of Speech prior to joining the EU.. The EU has eroded our Democratic Freedoms and imposing European Civil Code Law on us. Th list is endless as to why Britain should take back her Independence and leave the undemocratic conglomerate of the European State.

  29. Donna Jones
    Mar 14th 2016, 10:31 am

    What a load of rubbish they are spouting.
    Germany does not adhere to Health and Safety laws, they ignore them. I see it for my self everyday. I live in Germany at the moment because my husband is military. Merkel is a law unto herself.She is destroying Germany and the quicker we vote out the better. Even French people are saying we should leave because then France will follow.

  30. Steve Kerr
    Apr 7th 2016, 3:59 pm

    This is so biased it is unbelivable and shows the schizo nautre of Unite, the next slide after his EU propaganda slider is one about combatting TTIP and TTIP is an EU agreement !!!! You can not have your cake and eat it.

    I tell you this for nothing none of our Branch members are voting to remain and a number of us are are helping man stalls for the Leave and GO campaigns.

    So now Unite campaigns for an international cabal that works for the interests of international companies that are out to destroy our rights !!! no wonder peole are leaving and joining Prospect