Workers rights under threat

Our friends at Thompsons Solicitors have published an article detailing research by the Work Foundation that shows how the rights of millions of workers in the UK are under threat. Part-time workers will be especially at risk, and we know that the majority of part-time workers are women.

New analysis from the Work Foundation has found that government plans to revoke thousands of EU laws under the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022 by the end of 2023 will put the rights and protections of more than 8.6 million UK workers at risk.

The think tank has identified that three groups of workers – part-time, fixed-term and agency workers – will be most at risk if the government presses ahead with its plans without greater parliamentary scrutiny than is currently being allowed for by the government.

It warns that 8.2 million part-time workers fall into the most at-risk category, 72 per cent of whom are women. The think tank says that rushing the Bill through could see them treated differently to their peers when it comes to pay, leave, pension opportunities and benefits, training and career development.

But there are also three quarters of a million workers on fixed-term contracts in the UK (56 per cent of whom are women) who would face a future without protection from the EU-derived Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002.

The less favourable treatment legislation enables employees to be able to insist that their fixed-term contract is converted into a permanent one in certain circumstances. The Work Foundation says that it has led to significant improvements in pay and conditions with better access to workplace pensions for many temporary staff in the UK, according to the TUC.

The third group to face uncertainty under the Bill are the nearly three quarters of a million agency workers currently in the UK. Of these workers, nearly a third work part-time and 28,000 are on a fixed-term contract – so have protection from the fixed-contract regulations derived from the EU, as well as the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 which provide them with the right to the same “basic working and employment conditions” as direct employees. Both could be scrapped by the end of this year.

The Work Foundation says the EU Bill will affect “too many people’s lives” and is calling on the government to deliver the promised Employment Bill, enhance workplace protections, and bring UK workplaces into the 21st century. It also points out that sick pay, enforcement of rights, flexible working and other family friendly policies all need to be improved.

Download the report ‘A year of uncertainty: UK workers’ rights’