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Fury as Brexit ministers 'urge Theresa May to scrap EU working hours rules'

Emilio Casalicchio

3 min read

Campaigners have lashed out at alleged demands by top Brexit supporters to quit the EU working time directive.

The set of rules stop staff in most jobs from working more than 48 hours a week on average.

But according to reports this morning, Environment Secretary Michael Gove will be among those pushing the prime minister to scrap the legislation after Brexit.

The Sunday Times says he will make the case when the so-called Brexit ‘war Cabinet’ meets tomorrow to discuss what the future trade relationship with the EU should look like.

But the TUC said scrapping the directive could see millions of workers forced to work long hours, be stripped of their lunch breaks and lose their rights to paid holidays.

“This is a straight-up attack on our rights at work. Millions could lose their paid holidays, and be forced to work ridiculously long hours,” general secretary Frances O’Grady fumed.

“The working time directive gave nearly five million women paid holidays for the first time. No-one voted for Brexit to lose out on holidays, or to hand power over to bad bosses.

“The Prime Minister promised that our working rights would be protected after Brexit. Now we will see if she can keep her word, or if she is a hostage to extremists in her own cabinet.”

Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner told PoliticsHome: "The report that Mr Gove is pressing to abolish the regulation that stops people being compelled to work more than 48 hours a week as part of their contract of employment is a worrying signal of where the Government is heading post-Brexit. 

"They talk of freedom when in reality they mean abolishing people's rights and protections." 

Labour MP Jo Stevens accused the Conservatives of lying about promises to protect workers’ rights and said proposals to end the working time directive were “only the  beginning”.


Theresa May said earlier this year: “The Conservatives will guarantee all rights that workers currently enjoy as we leave the European Union...

“I said I would use Brexit to extend the protections and rights that workers enjoy, and our manifesto will deliver exactly that.”

But a source told the Sun on Sunday binning the working time directive "is what taking back control is all about".

They added: "It will put the power to decide how hard to work back into the hands of the people who matter - the ordinary British worker.

“One or two Brexiteers have been pushing to scrap this daft directive and there is big support for it in Cabinet.”

And a minister told the paper: “This will give employers the added flexibility they will need once we have left the EU.

"And it will allow millions of people to earn vital overtime cash.”

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