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Commenting on the publication today (Thursday) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which brings EU laws — including workers’ rights — into UK law , TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

Commenting on the publication today (Thursday) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which brings EU laws — including workers’ rights — into UK law , TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“This is a Downing Street power grab.

“The PM promised to protect all workers’ rights after Brexit. But there is nothing in this Bill to stop politicians shredding or watering down our rights in the future.

“Nobody voted for Brexit to make life harder for working people. That’s why any deal with the EU must ensure that workers’ rights in Britain don’t fall behind the rest of Europe.”

On proposals for the UK to be no longer subject to European Court of Justice rulings from the day the UK leaves the EU, O’Grady said:

“An early commitment to walk away from the ECJ will tie our hands in Brexit negotiations.

“The government should leave all options on the table, instead of creating yet more inflexible red lines.”


Notes to Editors:
- “We will ensure that workers’ rights are fully protected and maintained. Indeed, under my leadership, the Government will not only protect the rights of workers but build on them.” Theresa May, 29 March 2017 (
- On workers’ rights, the TUC is concerned that:

  • There are no guarantees that employment protections derived from the EU will be protected in the long term.
  • The repeal bill will give the government powers to repeal and amend existing rules – powers which will apply to employment and equality laws.  There is a risk the government could seek to scrap or water down key workers’ rights.  The Bill should include non-regression clauses guaranteeing that the new powers cannot be used to repeal or dilute employment and equality laws.
  • The government has not committed to ensuring that UK employment laws will keep pace with new EU employment standards. 
  • Once we leave the EU, the UK Supreme Court could have the power to overturn key decisions from the European Court of Justice which protect workers’ rights – without the need to secure Parliamentary approval.   

- In recent decades, the European Union has proved an important source of rights for working people in the UK, including:

  • Key health and safety standards
  • Rights to paid holidays and protection from excessive working hours
  • Family friendly rights, including rights to paid maternity leave, protection from dismissal for pregnant women and rights to parental leave
  • Equality rights, including rights to equal pay for work of equal value, and protection from discrimination on grounds of gender, race, sexual orientation, pregnancy, disability, age, and religion and belief
  • Protections for young workers, part-time workers, agency workers and those on fixed-term contracts
  • Protections for outsourced workers
  • The right to be consulted on collective redundancies, and for unions to present an alternative
  • Measures supporting information and consultation at a national and European level
  • Rights to paid facility time for safety reps and workplace reps
  • Protections for migrant and posted workers

- All TUC press releases can be found at
- TUC Press Office on Twitter: @tucnews

Press Office  T: 020 7467 1248  E:
Michael Pidgeon  T: 020 7467 1372  M: 07717 531150  E:
Alex Rossiter  T: 020 7467 1285  M: 07887 572130  E:
Tim Nichols  T: 020 7467 1388  M: 07808 761844  E:
Elly Gibson (Mon to Thurs) T: 020 7467 1337  M: 07900 910624  E:

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