Brexit guidance on workers’ rights

The UK government has published the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which is intended to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 but ensure that UK law derived from EU legislation and caselaw will generally remain in force after Brexit.

The government has also published a number of factsheets giving information on the so-called Repeal Bill, including one on workers’ rights. It confirms that workers’ rights that are enjoyed under EU law will continue to be available in UK law after the UK has left the EU. This includes rights derived from EU law, such as the Working Time Regulations, the Agency Workers’ Regulations, and TUPE.

TUC report on insecure work and ethnicity

The TUC in their new report published on 2 June titled “Insecure work and Ethnicity” is calling on this new government to:

  • Ban mandatory zero-hours contracts, so that guaranteed hours are offered to all workers;
  • Give everyone the same rights as an employee, unless the employer can show that they are genuinely self-employed;
  • Give all workers a right to a written statement of terms, conditions and working hours, from day one;
  • End the pay penalty for agency workers, so that they get the going rate for the job;
  • Require employers to publish ethnic monitoring reports on recruitment, pay, and employment type;
  • Abolish employment tribunal fees;
  • Allow trade unions access to all workplaces to help improve pay and conditions.

The TUC highlighted the significant gulf between Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) temporary workers and white temporary workers within Britain with statistics showing that between 2011 – 2016 the number of black workers on temporary contracts rose by 58% whereas the increase over the same period for white workers was only 8%. There was also a gender disparity between the black male and female workforces, with female temporary workers increasing by 82% since 2011, compared to only 32% for black men.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said on publication of this report: “This problem isn’t simply going to disappear. Dealing with insecure work has to be top of the list for the next government. And we need a real national strategy to confront racism in the labour market.”

Although more targeted in focus this follows recent analysis by the Fawcett Society which has shown the pay gap narrowing is much slower for BAME women than white women and builds on the earlier Baroness McGregor-Smith Review. Last month’s Queen’s Speech promised that the government will make further progress to tackle the gender pay gap and discrimination against people on the basis of their race, faith, gender, disability or sexual orientation but no further details have yet been given.

Consultation deadline on caste discrimination extended

The Government Equalities Office is consulting on how to ensure appropriate and proportionate legal protection because of a person’s caste, and asking how much protection would be implemented in practice. The consultation asks whether caste should become a formal aspect of race in the Equality Act 2010, or whether developing case law in the courts and employment tribunals (such as Chandhok & Anor v Tirkey in the Employment Appeals Tribunal in 2014) is adequate.

The closing date was to be 18 July but has now been extended until 18 September 2017. The government would like to hear from employers, service providers, public authorities and the public.

To respond to the consultation, click here.

ACAS updates cyber bullying guidance

Earlier this month ACAS updated its information on cyber bullying which it defines as “any form of bullying, harassment or victimisation online” and which may take place via posting offensive photographs, comments or sensitive personal information. This could be done accidentally or vindictively. Damaging consequences for organisations or their employees include:

  • poor morale and poor employee relations
  • poor performance/ lost productivity
  • absence or resignations
  • loss of respect for managers or supervisors.

ACAS recommends that employers should include guidance on the use of social media in bullying or disciplinary policies and to take any complaint seriously and investigate it promptly.

UK proposals on EU citizens’ rights after Brexit

On 26 June 2017 the UK government published its paper, Safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU. This contains the government’s proposal with regards to the free movement of people following Brexit. It contains a number of recommendations which would, if adopted, impact on the rights of EU nationals to remain in the UK and the documentation for which EU nationals would need to apply after a transitional period.

It is important to remember that the UK remains a full member of the EU with no change to the rights and obligations of EU membership until the Brexit process is complete. There are no changes to the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK, nor UK nationals living in the EU at present.

The paper is simply a proposal. It has not, it is fair to say, been warmly received by the EU. It is our opinion that it should not impact on a decision whether to apply for, in particular, permanent residence for those European nationals living in the UK who are eligible for that status. We have previously outlined the options available and issues to consider.