Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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The UK’s Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch MP, revealed a new strategy that seemingly prioritizes corporate interests over worker rights. In her statement today, she outlined plans to revoke select EU laws retained in the Retained EU Law Bill by year’s end 2023. This change affects minor employment regulations, leaving the bulk of EU laws intact until proper consultation can be made.

These proposed reforms, touted as ‘leveraging post-Brexit regulatory freedoms,’ imply a potential rollback of rights that protect British workers. It appears that the Government is dancing to the tune of capitalist interests in sectors such as road transport where EU law has, till now, safeguarded workers’ rights.

The new policy paper proposes limiting non-compete clauses to three months. It assures that this won’t meddle with employers’ use of notice periods, non-solicitation clauses, or confidentiality clauses, but many questions remain unanswered. One can’t help but wonder if the Government is quietly paving the way for more employer power over employees.

The reform plan also includes changes to the TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)) regulations. It expands exemption for consultation with employee representatives during a transfer for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, creating potential loopholes for corporate manipulation.

Moreover, proposed amendments to the Working Time Regulations could free employers from keeping records of all individual’s working hours. This move will reduce administrative burden for businesses but may also eliminate an essential check on worker exploitation. The proposal also aims to simplify holiday pay calculation by merging EU-derived annual leave entitlements with additional statutory annual leave, a change that could affect workers’ rights to carry-over leaves and pay in lieu.

While the government claims the UK’s labour standards are some of the highest in the world, these developments reveal an unsettling tilt towards deregulation that might risk undermining the protections UK workers currently enjoy. As the Brexit dust settles, it’s essential to ensure that the newly won ‘regulatory freedoms’ don’t become a Trojan horse for eroding worker rights.

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