The future of the EU regulations to limit working hours to 48 a week might not survive Brexit, as Theresa May has refused to guarantee the rules once the UK leaves the European Union.
Labour MP’s have demanded that the Prime Minister confirms whether the regulations will remain in place, as some ministers have publicly stated they want them to be scrapped.
May responded that the working time directive would most likely be removed. However, she said that the government is committed to “maintaining and enhancing workers’ rights” in other ways. In a statement, she also claimed that Britain is “well on its way to delivering a smooth and orderly Brexit”.
The 48 hour working time directive seems to be top of the agenda. The regulations, which were introduced in 2003, currently state that work should not exceed 48 hours each week unless employees specifically opt out of the rules.
There are mixed opinions among cabinet ministers, with some expressing strong concerns and others supporting the changes. Some ministers have openly stated that they support “maximum divergence” from the currently imposed regulations.
Theresa May has also said that Britain would leave the common fishing and agricultural policies in 2019, which has caused further concerns. Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, said that he fears the current quotas could prove to be problematic and has recommended that the UK removes itself from the policies sooner.
The prime minister has confirmed that Britain will continue to follow the regulations during the transitional period, arguing that the EU will require continued participation in order secure a smooth a transition to leaving the single market.
Tim Farron, the former Liberal Democrat leader, commented that “The Government is going to sacrifice the family farm and cripple British farming, if they switch off the common agricultural policy without a plan to replace it.”
Chuka Umunna and other Labour MPs have also urged the Prime Minister to “guarantee that, post-Brexit, none of the working time regulations, importantly the 48-hour working week, will be done away with by her Government”
May responded that “Under the EU Withdrawal Bill, we are bringing these rights into UK law. I have said that we will maintain workers’ rights, and indeed enhance workers’ rights.”
May has received some strong opposition to the proposals. Rees Mogg has urged that she should “model herself on her predecessor, the late noble Baroness Thatcher, and show real metal and steel in rejecting these rather hostile negotiating terms from the European Union”,
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