In an effort to delineate the UK from its neighbors post-Brexit, government ministers reportedly plan to bin an EU directive that limits working hours and guarantees paid annual leave.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove, a staunch supporter of Brexit, will use a Cabinet meeting on Monday to put forward a demand for the European Union’s working time directive to be scrapped, reports the Sunday Times.
It’s argued that the move will help small and medium businesses, and comes as UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson expressed fears Britain will become a “vassal state” if it mirrors EU laws. But one of the UK’s largest federation of trade unions has hit out at the “ministerial plot,” stating the legal act protects millions of British employees against excessive working hours.
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The directive, updated and agreed on by EU member states in 2003, also ensures minimum rest periods of 11 consecutive hours and paid annual leave of at least 4 weeks per year.
Currently employers can ask workers to do more than 48 hours a week. However, people can legally refuse this overtime request.
I’ve seen reports of a ministerial plot to scrap the Working Time Directive. This is a straight-up attack on our rights at work.
— Frances O’Grady (@FrancesOGrady) December 17, 2017
“This is a straight-up attack on our rights at work. Millions could lose their paid holidays, and be forced to work ridiculously long hours,” said Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary.
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“The Working Time Directive gave nearly 5 million women paid holidays for the first time. No-one voted for Brexit to lose out on holidays, or to hand power over to bad bosses. The Prime Minister promised that our working rights would be protected after Brexit. Now we will see if she can keep her word, or if she is a hostage to extremists in her own cabinet.”
UK Labour MEP Seb Dance also weighed in on the matter, suggesting Brexit is being used as an “excuse to scrap as much law protecting workers are possible.”
This is the opposite of what scrapping workers rights will mean: the working time directive stops workers being *forced* to do overtime, but lets them choose to if they want. Brexit never was a left-wing project, just an excuse to scrap as much law protecting workers as possible. pic.twitter.com/dvJgfb3HGb
— Seb Dance MEP (@SebDance) December 17, 2017
During a Nigel Farage speech in the European Parliament this year, Dance infamously held up a sign which read: “He’s lying to you.”
Dance later explained his actions as a response to the “dangerous misrepresentation” of information regarding immigration and Brexit.