Continued Retained EU Law Bill uncertainty leaves parents, carers and employers in limbo
Published: 21 Apr 2023
Working Families has joined other members of the Families and Work Group in calling on the Government to provide clarity and changes to the proposed Retained EU Law Bill. The uncertainty of the current bill and the repeated delays in its progress have left working parents and carers – as well as their employers – in limbo. In the letter below, we urge the Government to confirm that no workers’ rights will be weakened as a result of the Bill.
Dear Lord Callanan,
RE: Request for clarification on the status of EU derived Law impacting working parents and carers
As members of the Families and Work Group – a coalition of 16 civil society organisations with a shared interest in employment issues facing parents and carers – we are writing to you to express our concern over the implications of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill for employment rights and employment case law.
As organisations that advocate for the removal of the barriers that parents and carers face in the workplace, we are particularly concerned about the status of the following laws, given their direct and indirect impact upon people with caring responsibilities, who are more likely to be atypical workers:
- The Part Time Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000, and Fixed-Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002.
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 which implements the health and safety requirements of the Pregnant Workers Directive (92/85/EEC) into UK law.
- Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999
- Working Time Regulations 1998
These protections also cover the employment rights for many of the most disadvantaged workers, such as those in part-time or insecure employment, and their removal from the statute book would therefore be particularly concerning.
The uncertainty over the future status of these laws created by the presentation of this Bill contrasts with the Government’s support for a series of Private Members’ Bills which will enhance employee entitlements in the workplace including: a day-one right to request flexibility, the right to request a predictable contract, access to carers leave, neo-natal care leave and pay, and greater protections for parents returning from parental leave. These proposed laws have been supported by employers and employer representative bodies, who wish to uphold and improve employment practices in the UK.
We welcome your statement that the Government has “no intention of weakening workers’ rights”, however, until the Government is able to clarify which laws it wishes to retain, the presumption is that all EU derived legislation will be subject to the ‘sunset clauses’ of the Bill and will therefore cease to be effective from the 31st December 2023. This would create significant bureaucratic burdens for employers and throw the rights of millions of working people into jeopardy.
We therefore request clarification that the Government will retain the legislation cited above.
If ministers intend to allow legislation affecting working parents to lapse or be restated we ask that the ‘sunset’ date be significantly extended, and the government commit to a review of the impact of changing these laws, including the consequences for case law, before such changes take effect.
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further with you and offer you an open invite to attend a future Families and Work Group meeting to discuss the Bill.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Pregnant Then Screwed
Women’s Budget Group