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Workplace rights in the UK exceed the EU minimum

David Green, 13 June 2016

Labour leaders are struggling to motivate Labour voters. Is it because the voters are misguided or because the leaders no longer speak for the party’s natural supporters?

The strongest argument being advanced is that workplace rights will be dismantled after Brexit. But how plausible is this fear? There are numerous examples of workplace rights in the UK that are well in advance of the EU minimum:

 Annual leave: the EU minimum is 20 days paid leave. We have 28 days.

Maternity leave: the EU minimum is 14 weeks at the same rate as sick pay. In the UK, it’s 52 weeks, with the first six paid at 90% of the normal wage and the following 33 weeks at the statutory rate. The last three months are unpaid.

Posting of workers to other countries: the EU allows exemptions, such as workers posted for less than one month. In the UK there is no such exemption.

The default retirement age: the EU allows a compulsory retirement age. The UK has abolished it.

Temporary agency workers: the EU directive defines ‘pay’ narrowly. The UK has a wider definition that includes bonuses, making it harder for employers to lower remuneration.

Whether we have good or bad workplace protections is a matter for our democracy. There is widespread public support for generous workplace conditions and the best way to keep them above the EU minimum is to keep control of our own affairs.

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