Thank you for contacting me about the debate on employment rights in the UK which took place on 25 January 2021. I celebrate the fact that workers’ conditions are so much higher in the UK than required under EU law. For example, we have a living wage that is rising to £10.50 by 2024, 28 weeks of sick pay, 52 weeks of maternity leave and 28 days of annual leave. The EU requires no living wage, no minimum sick pay, 14 weeks of maternity leave and only 20 days of annual leave.
Where there are EU laws like the Working Time Directive it has been transposed into UK law through the Working Time Regulations 1998, and under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 these and other Regulations have been retained.
Now that we have left the EU and taken back full control of our laws, the Government has been clear that there will be no reduction in workers’ rights. No legislation is being proposed, just some press reporting and some scare-mongering by the opposition in the form of the debate in question.
While employers and employees must be given the flexibility to arrange the terms and conditions of employment, all employers are expected to treat their workers fairly and in the spirit of partnership. I condemn the use of ‘fire and rehire’ as a negotiating tactic.
During the pandemic, schemes like the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) and other elements of the £280 billion package of support is designed to maintain the link between employers and employees.
Ultimately, the UK has one of the best records on workers’ rights in the world, going further than the EU in many areas, and I am determined to build on this progress.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.