Personal Law

Government to Consider Scrapping EU Labour Laws

Estimated read time: 2 mins

Carrie Tennick, January 20, 2021

A government minister has confirmed that it is considering getting rid of some EU labour laws.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted that employees would not see their rights diluted, though.

‘Safeguarding employment rights’

The business secretary had previously told business leaders that the UK now had an opportunity to reform regulations that were based on EU laws. But he added that the government would not intentionally antagonise the EU right after reaching a Brexit deal.

Addressing MPs, Kwarteng assured them the government wouldn’t start a “bonfire of rights”. He said the government is “absolutely looking at safeguarding employment rights”.

He explained: “I think the view was that we wanted to look at the whole range of issues relating to our EU membership and examine what we wanted to keep, if you like.”

Working time directive

The working time directive was one of the specific pieces of legislation mentioned. This law prohibits working more than 48 hours a week – but employees can opt out, allowing them to work longer hours.

Kwarteng told MPs that he was “very struck” when he looked at how many EU countries had “essentially opted out of the working time directive”.

He confirmed that his governmental department was carrying out a consultation with businesses on certain EU rules, which include working hours. As an EU member state, the UK opted out of the working time directive.

Ed Miliband, shadow business secretary, said that getting rid of the 48-hour working week would stop key workers, such as those employed by the NHS and airlines, from working too many hours.

A Financial Times report said the government’s review would also look at breaks during work and including overtime pay when working out employees’ holiday pay entitlements.

It was also reported that the government could scrap the requirement to log data on daily working hours.

Employment rights

As work conditions and employee rights are currently real concerns for many, it can make the prospect of experiencing an employment law problem even more stressful.

The effect of Brexit on workers’ rights remains to be seen, leading to uncertainty around contracts and wider conditions. The Covid-19 pandemic has also left a huge mark on the economy, leaving many businesses and employees struggling.

If you’re dealing with a legal issue at work, you could benefit from the knowledge and help of a specialist solicitor.

Talk to the First4Lawyers team to find out how our employment law experts can guide you through.

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