TUC hails Europe’s role in improving the lot of UK workers

Many of the advances in workplace rights that employees take for granted would not have become law in the UK if it were not for the European Union, according to a new TUC report.

Europe and Your Rights at Work says that many of the protections that workers have come to accept, such as the right to a minimum of 20 days paid holiday and the enshrining of the concept of equal pay in UK law, began life as directives in Europe.

The report features 12 key benefits for workers that emanated from Europe, including sex discrimination laws, the Transfer of Undertaking (Protection of Employment) Regulations(TUPE), equal treatment for part-time workers and limits on working time.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “UK politicians like to claim the good things from Europe as their own, and blame it for anything unpopular. Yet some of the most popular and worthwhile changes in the workplace have come direct from Europe.

“But there is still more that could be done at European level to protect vulnerable workers, such as bringing the shelved agency workers directive back to life,” he said.

The report says that during the 1980s and early 1990s Europe was the only means by which UK workers were able to benefit from enhanced rights at work.

It also says that workplace rights that begin life in Brussels are long lasting, because individual European governments cannot repeal or weaken them.


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