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How has Brexit affected workers rights?

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A year or more on from the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, we review whether Brexit has led to any changes to workers’ rights. Although much of the messaging prior to the signing of the agreement outlined Britain’s ability to reduce regulation, softening rights of workers did not happen.

Why have workers’ rights remained aligned with European rights?

The main reason that workers’ rights remain aligned with Europe is because the agreement outlines that neither the EU or UK can have a competitive advantage over the other. Therefore, workers’ rights and employment standards are intrinsically linked with the EU. Should the government make changes to employment laws, it could lead to a competitive advantage for business and therefore in contravention of the agreement with the EU.

The government cannot afford to amend employment rights if it leads to retaliatory EU action and therefore it is unlikely laws will change.

However, the European Commission plans to implement strengthening employment rights to gig economy workers. The plan is to ensure that gig economy workers gain rights of full-time employees. Currently, they need to prove they are employees to gain employment rights. Large gig economy companies that trade across Europe may need to implement the rules despite Britain being outside the EU.

Currently, the government are not looking to reduce workers’ rights but even if they do may need to meet the standards implemented in Europe. However, there may be small reforms to employment law, that do not rock the boat so that politicians can continue the ‘taking back control’ rhetoric.

The government are likely to look at the protections surrounding paid holidays, maternity rights and removing the limits to a working week. Given that a recent parliament vote meant these rights can now expiry, it would suggest a new government bill on workers rights.

But the recent news involving Twitter and workers rights, has put these issues directly in the mind of the British public. Given the cost of living crisis, workers are needing protection.

Should your company or you need employment advice please contact us on 020 3051 5060 or visit our employment page for more information.

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