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Employment rights - Implications of the UK's decision to leave the European Union for fair and safe working rights

The UK’s membership of the EU has had a significant impact on the development of employment rights for doctors. Legislation such at the European Working Time Directive, the right to equal pay between men and women, and other EU laws around equality have strengthened safety and equality provisions for doctors in the UK. This improves patient care, as well as working towards creating a better work environment which is more likely to retain doctors – the effect of which is incredibly important given the current pressures on the NHS.

Once the UK has left the EU, Parliament will decide which areas of EU-derived legislation, including legislation on employment rights, should remain, undergo amendments, or be repealed. The BMA is keenly aware of the potential risks to doctors if such legislation is repealed, and opposes Brexit for a number of reasons including the threat posed to the NHS workforce by allowing key employment protections to be repealed.

 

Key points

  • The European Union (Withdrawal) Act gained Royal Assent in June 2017. The Act will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and incorporate current EU laws into UK law. Parliament will decide which areas of EU- derived legislation including, for example, legislation on employment rights, should remain, undergo amendments, or should be repealed.
  • The EWTD (European Working Time Directive) and the measures which it has transposed into the UK WTR (Working Time Regulations) – namely the limit of a 48-hour average working week, rest breaks and statutory paid leave – form key health and safety legislation. The BMA is calling for the WTR to be retained and protected after the UK’s departure from the EU.
  • EU law underpins the Equality Act 2010, including rights to equal treatment for part-time workers, health and safety protections for pregnant workers and rights to maternity leave, emergency time off for dependents, and parental leave. While the government has committed to maintaining equality rights and transposing other rights into UK law upon withdrawal from the EU, the BMA has concerns that they will become more vulnerable to amendment, narrower interpretation, and weaker enforcement following Brexit.
  • The BMA is calling on the UK Government to fully incorporate the right to equal pay between men and women, as outlined in Article 157 of the EU Treaty, into UK law.

 

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Brexit briefing: Employment rights - Implications of the UK's decision to leave the European Union for fair and safe working rights

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Find out more 

For further information on this briefing, please contact Susan Bahl, Brexit lead:

Phone: 020 3058 7457

Email: [email protected]

Read more BMA Brexit briefings