Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the biggest UK trade union body the TUC, has warned that workers’ rights are being forgotten in the debate over whether the UK should stay in the EU.
“It is citizens who get votes, not businesses. There is a danger that this debate is becoming so dominated by the business voice that we’re forgetting about what matters to ordinary voters,” O’Grady told the BBC.
She said that the big question that the Brexit campaign has to answer is what would happen to rights at work, from maternity leave, to equal pay, to holidays, to consultation on redundancies, if we left the EU.
“Do we think the Government that we have in power would protect those rights?” she asked.
Kathleen Morrison, professional support lawyer at Brodies LLP, said that the impact of EU law on the development of UK employment law cannot be understated.
She gave the following 11 examples of workers’ rights that originated at EU-level:
1. Working time
Hours of work were largely unregulated before the UK Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR) were introduced to implement the European Working Time Directive. Key rights include the 48-hour working week (although the UK has its well-known opt-out arrangement), the right to daily and weekly rest breaks, and limits on night-work.
The European Working Time Directive also obliged Member States to provide paid holiday of at least four weeks, although the UK has since gone further, extending provision to 5.6 weeks’ holiday per year.
3. Protection for workers when work is transferred from one business to another
Employees are protected when the work they do is transferred from one business to another; employees automatically transfer to the buyer; they transfer on their existing terms and conditions of employment (with limited exceptions); they are protected against dismissal in connection with a transfer; and information and consultation requirements apply.
4. Agency workers
Agency workers have the right to the same basic working conditions (for example, pay and annual leave) as equivalent permanent staff after they have worked for a business for 12 weeks.
Business picture of the day
Business picture of the day
1/31 G7 world leaders say Brexit poses a serious risk to global growth - Friday May 27
Seven leaders have warned of the risk to global economy if Britain votes to leave the European Union in a referendum next month. The UK leaving the European Union would “reverse the trend towards greater global trade and investment, and the jobs they create, and is a further serious risk to growth,” leaders said in a joint declaration at the G7 meeting in Japan.
2/31 Fast food workers demonstrate for better wages - Thursday May 26
Demonstrators calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15-dollars-per-hour protest outside of McDonald's corporate headquarters on May 25, 2016 in Oak Brook, Illinois.
3/31 Steelworkers march in London as Tata sale talks continue - Wednesday May 25
Hundreds of steelworkers from across the UK marched through Westminster to keep up pressure for government help for their industry
AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth
4/31 Google Paris headquarters raided as part of tax payment probe - Tuesday May 24
The message 'I'm feeling lucky' is seen on the facade of the entrance of Google's Paris headquarters on May 24, 2016 in Paris, France. Google's headquarters in Paris were raided by French investigators on Tuesday morning as part of an investigation over alleged tax fraud. Ministry of Finance is seeking €1.6 billion ($1.79 billion) in back taxes from the US Internet giant Google.
5/31 Bayer offers to buy Monsanto for $62 billion cash - Monday May 23
Monsanto DeKalb brand hybrid corn sits in the hopper of a Case IH planter in a field in Princeton, Illinois, US. Bayer, on Monday, made an unsolicited $62 billion all-cash offer to acquire Monsanto to create the world’s biggest supplier of farm chemicals and genetically modified seeds, a proposed acquisition that would be the biggest corporate deal by a German company.
6/31 Fracking approval under consideration - Friday May 20
Councillors in North Yorkshire on Friday considered whether to approve fracking in England for the first time since a ban on the technique was lifted in 2012. Campaigners say approval would set a "dangerous precedent".
7/31 'Oppenheimer Blue' diamond sells for £40m, setting new record - Thursday May 19
The world's most expensive diamond has set a new record after it was sold at auction - for more than £39 million. At 14.62 carats, the 'Oppenheimer Blue' was the largest Vivid Blue diamond ever to go under the hammer.
8/31 Mitsubishi Motors president to resign over fuel scandal - Wednesday May 19
Mitsubishi Motors President Tetsuro Aikawa will step down as the Japanese automaker looks to regroup from its widening fuel economy testing scandal with the backing of Nissan Motor. Aikawa, 62, and Executive Vice President Ryugo Nakao will leave their positions effective June 24, according to a statement Wednesday.Prior to the scandal, Mitsubishi was the sixth biggest carmaker in Japan and ranked 16 worldwide.
9/31 Harmony of the Seas: Biggest cruise ship in the world docks in Southampton - Tuesday May 17
The worlds largest cruise ship, the 361 metres long, Harmony of the Seas, arrives in port for her mayden voyage, in Southampton, Britain May 17, 2016. The 362-metre-long Harmony of the Seas cost $1 billion (£700 million) and is larger than the Eiffel Tower.
10/31 Barclays to sell secret London gold vault - Monday May 16
Barclays has sold its metals business, including a secret gold bullion vault in London which can hold up to 2,000 tonnes of gold. ICBC Standard, China’s biggest bank, expects the purchase to be completed in July. Barclays decision to exit the business comes as US and EU regulators investigate whether 10 banks, including Deutsche Bank and Barclays manipulated prices of precious metals such as silver and gold.
11/31 Bank of England warns EU referendum vote could damage UK economic growth - Thursday May 12
The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, warned today that a majority vote to "leave" in next month's European Union referendum carried the risk of a "technical recession" for the UK. His words came as the Bank slashed its growth forecasts citing uncertainty created by next month's Brexit referendum - and warned, in addition, that a vote to leave could push up unemployment, send the pound plummeting and result in a spike in inflation.
12/31 EU blocks Three's takeover of O2 - Wednesday May 11
European Union Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager talks to the media after the EU Commission prohibited Hutchison's proposed acquisition of Telefonica UK, at the EU Commission headquarter in Brussels on May 11, 2016. The European Commission shot down Telefonica's blockbuster sale of British telecom giant O2 to Hong Kong group Hutchison on fears it would inflict higher prices on British consumer
13/31 Budweiser just renamed its beer to "America" - Tuesday May 10
The beer, formerly known as Budweiser, is going for what it calls "patriotic packaging" this summer. The brand name on most cans and bottles will read "America", and will include phrases from the Pledge of Allegiance and lyrics from The Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful. “We thought nothing was more iconic than Budweiser and nothing was more iconic than America," Tosh Hall, creative director at JRK, told Fast Co Design.Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Belgian-Brazilian brewing giant, filed the America label for approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and has received the go ahead for use on 12-ounce cans and bottles.
14/31 Canadian wildfires push up oil - Monday May 9
Crude rose as expanding wildfires in Canada knocked out about 1 million barrels a day of output. Futures increased as much as 2.9 per cent in New York and 2.5 per cent in London. The blaze has led to cuts equivalent to about 40 percent of Canada’s oil-sands production, based on IHS Energy estimates.
15/31 Hotel Chocolat founders make £20m each from stock market debut - Thursday May 5
Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris share £43.5m of £55.5m raised through flotation of luxury chocolate company
16/31 BHP Billiton faces £30bn compensation claim over Brazil dam disaster - Wednesday May 4
BHP Billiton and its partner Vale are facing a 155bn real (£30bn) claim from Brazilian prosecutors over a dam collapse last year at one of their iron ore mines, which killed 19 and left 700 homeless. Shares in the London-listed BHP plunged almost 10% after the charges were revealed into what is being called Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster.
Getty Images/ Douglas Magno
17/31 Australian Craig Wright claims he is Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto - Tuesday May 3
Australian businessman Craig Wright has claimed to be the person behind “Satoshi Nakamoto”, the mysterious identity that created much of the technology behind the online cash system. Sato
18/31 Museums face ethics investigation over influence of sponsor BP - Friday April 29
Protesters carrying umbrellas take part in a flashmob performance, protesting against British Petroleum's (BP's) sponsorship of the British Museum in central London on September 13, 201
NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
19/31 Volkswagen bosses to be paid £49m despite record losses after emissions scandal - Thursday April
Volkswagen is to pay 12 current and former managers €63.24 million (£49m) for 2015, a year of record losses for the company following its global emissions scandal.
20/31 Comcast ‘in talks to buy DreamWorks for $3bn’ - Wednesday April 27
Comcast, the parent of Universal Pictures, is in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation for more than $3 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the discussions. Buying the maker of the "Shrek" and "Kung Fu Panda" movies would bolster Comcast's collection of animated films as the largest US cable provider searches for ways to grow amid a trend of cord-cutters dropping TV for online video services like Netflix.
21/31 Scottish Power fined £18m for poor customer service - Tuesday April 26
Scottish Power has agreed to pay £18 million for failing to treat its customers fairly. The fine – of which up to £15 million will be paid to vulnerable Scottish Power customers and £3 million to charity - is the third biggest penalty given to one of the major six energy providers. It follows an investigation by the industry regulator Ofgem into the firm’s customer service.
22/31 BHS goes into administration with 11,000 jobs under threat - Monday April 25
BHS has filed for administration, putting 11,000 jobs at risk. Administrators Philip Duffy and Benjamin Wiles of Duff & Phelps said BHS had “no alternative but to put the group into administration to protect it for all creditors”. The group will continue to trade as normal while administrators look for someone to buy the chain. READ MORE BHS on the brink of collapse: everything you need to know The high street store has been unable to find £60 million in emergency funding needed to pay wages and rent and stop it going under.
23/31 New £20 note design and personality unveiled by Bank of England - Friday April 22
Artist JMW Turner and his painting The Fighting Temeraire will feature on the new design of the Bank of England's £20 note to enter circulation in 2020. The English Romantic artist was chosen from a list of public nominations - the first time the Bank has asked who should appear on a specific banknote. The note, to be made of polymer, will eventually replace the current £20 note featuring the economist Adam Smith.
The Governor and The Company of The Bank of England
24/31 Mitsubishi office raided in Japan as shares slide towards record low on fuel economy test scandal - Thursday April 21
The offices of Mitsubishi have been raided in Japan after the company admitted to falsifying fuel economy data, sending shares plummeting 35 per cent in two days. Investors watched in horror as the stock price fell a further 20 per cent on Thursday to trade around 583 yen following a raid on the Mitsubishi plant in the central Japanese city of Okazaki. Trading was halted due to the surfeit of investors trying to sell stock. More than third of the company's value evaporated in the sell-off.
25/31 Oil tumbles as Kuwait strike ends - Wednesday April 20
The oil price is in retreat this morning after Kuwaiti workers ended a three day strike. Brent crude has slumped by 2.5 per cent already, down over $1 to $42.95 per barrel, as traders anticipate more oil flowing from Kuwait again. Workers had walked out on Sunday, protesting against austerity cutbacks that will hit their wages and benefits. It’s not clear what concessions they have been handed.The strike by oil workers has slashed Kuwait's output, but the state oil firm, Kuwait Petroleum Corp, said it had managed to restore some affected production
26/31 Netflix shares nose-dive on growth and pricing fears - Tuesday April 19
Netflix shares plunged nearly 11 per cent in after-hours trading on Wall Street over fears the video streaming company’s growth is stalling as it faces an attack on its market share from Amazon. Numbers were lower than analysts, who had anticipated 580,000 in the US and 3.5 million globally, were looking for. It has 81.5 million users worldwide.The video streaming group, home to House of Cards and Marco Polo, posted a first-quarter profit of $28 million (£19.6 million), up $4 million on last year.One reasons for the slowing growth is that the company has been pushing up its charges. It is also facing tough competition from Hulu and Amazon, which unveiled a new monthly subscription pricing model yesterday.
27/31 The Treasury Brexit equation - Monday April 18
These are the equations at the heart of the Treasury’s economic model, which is designed to quantify the impact of Britain leaving the European Union. It’s this model that produced the result cited by Chancellor George Osborne today that the economy could be 6 per cent smaller in 2030 (relative to staying in the EU) and each household £4,300 worse off.
28/31 Chinese growth slides - Friday April 15
China’s economy grew at its slowest pace since 2009 in the first three months of the year, although there were signs that the world’s second-largest economy was stabilising. The so-called Dragon economy grew 6.7 per cent in the first quarter, official figures showed. That was down slightly on the previous quarter’s 6.8 per cent but in line with Beijing’s forecasts. Chinese banks issued nearly double the amount of new loans in March than in February while retail sales growth accelerated from 10.2 per cent to 10.5 per cent and industrial output advanced from 5.4 per cent to 6.8 per cent, well ahead of expectations.
Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images
29/31 Fifty biggest US companies stashing $1.3trn offshore - Thursday April 14
The 50 biggest US companies, including Coca-Colam Walt Disney, Alphabet (Google) and Goldman Sachs, have more money stashed offshore than the entire GDP of Spain, Mexico or Australia, collectively keeping about $1.3t trillion (£0.91trillion) in territories where the money does not count towards US tax, according to a new report by Oxfam.
Denis Kartavenko (c)
30/31 Activists seek transparency in Panama Papers aftermath in Berlin - Wednesday April 13
Activists wearing suits throw fake money into the air while demanding greater transparency in new legislation following the ongoing Panama Papers affair on April 13, 2016 in Berlin, Germany
by Sean Gallup/Getty Images
31/31 IMF warns Brexit will create 'severe global damage' - Tuesday April 12
The IMF has slashed the UK’s growth forecasts for this year, saying uncertainty created by the Brexit referendum in June is already hurting the domestic economy. It is a major intervention from the IMF into the referendum debate. The IMF’s managing director Christine Lagarde has previously spoken about the negative economic impact of Brexit. But this is the first major warning from the Fund itself. The IMF cut its 2016 GDP growth forecast for Britain to 1.9 per cent, down from the 2.2 per cent it projected in January. After Japan, it was the joint second largest downgrade handed out to any country in the G7.
Getty Images / John Lamparski
5. Collective redundancy consultation
If an employer proposes to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one establishment within 90 days, it must provide information and consult with employee representatives. Consultation must begin "in good time" before redundancies take effect.
The EU outlaws discrimination based on sex, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, disability, age, sexual orientation and gender reassignment. It also requires equal pay for men and women.
7. Fixed-term employees
The EU prohibits less favourable treatment of fixed-term employees in comparison to permanent employees.
8. Part-time workers
Part-time workers are protected against less favourable treatment in comparison to full-time workers.
9. Pregnancy and maternity
Some pregnancy and maternity rights stem from EU law, although UK rights go much further than the EU minimum, for example providing 52 weeks’ maternity leave as opposed to the EU minimum of 14 weeks.
10. Parental leave
Eligible employees are entitled to up to 18 weeks’ unpaid parental leave for each child, which can be taken up to the child’s 18th birthday.
11. Data protection
The UK Data Protection Act was designed to implement the EU data protection regime.