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Lords back workers' rights case

Houses of Parliament Westminster

Efforts to protect working-time regulations following Brexit, as called for by the BMA, have been supported in Lords.

Peers voting on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill overwhelmingly passed an amendment preventing the Government from amending or repealing existing EU laws on workplace rights and protections after Brexit without full parliamentary scrutiny or consultation with stakeholders, such as the BMA.

The bill aims to convert all EU law into UK law following Brexit, although many organisations including the BMA have expressed concern that aspects of law, such as working time regulations, could be revoked through the ‘back door’ following this process.

Under the terms of the amendment, a minister would be unable to ‘amend, repeal or revoke’ any transferred EU law relating to WTRs and other employment rights, without primary legislation having been passed.

Introducing her amendment, Labour peer Baroness Hayter insisted that there was ‘little to no appetite’ among the public for the removal or watering down of workplace protections such as working time regulations, following the UK’s exit from the EU.

Highlighting the lobbying work of the BMA, she said that scrapping the working-time regulations risked undermining patient and staff safety.

She said: ‘The BMA, along with 12 medical royal colleges and unions, wrote to the prime minister calling on her to stand firm against Brexiteers who want to scrap European laws and warning of the risk to patient safety since, in their words, “fatigue, caused by excessive overwork, remains an occupational hazard for many” NHS staff.’

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