Recent reports claim that the Prime Minister is eager for the UK Government to opt out of many European Union employment laws including the Working Time Directive and the Agency Workers Directive. But with many UK workers criticising the idea, Keystone’s Malcolm Mason asks whether it is simply too late.

David Cameron has highlighted, in particular, those EU laws implemented into UK domestic law relating to working time and temporary workers. It appears that the Government’s desire is to restore the opt-out position on social legislation (Euro-speak for employment and related laws) negotiated by Prime Minister Major as part of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and then later surrendered by Prime Minister Blair in 1997.

The UK has now been a member of the EU for more than four decades, having joined the then European Economic Community in 1973. A great deal of our statutory employment law today emanates from EU Directives and which, as required, has been implemented into UK domestic law. Since 1973 there have been more than 30 EU employment Directives, and many of the subject areas are firmly part of our jurisprudence and also, to some extent, our social welfare system. These laws now form an integral part of the employment relationships of UK workers who may not wish to see their politicians remove or dilute these protective laws.

Below is an alphabetical list of the principal Directives applicable to UK workers:

  • Agency Workers Directive
  • Business Transfers Directive (or Acquired Rights Directive)
  • Collective Redundancies Directive
  • Contracts of Employment Directive
  • Data Protection Directive
  • Equality Directive
  • Equal Treatment Directive
  • European Works Councils Directive
  • Fixed-term Work Directive
  • Framework Health and Safety Directive
  • Information and Consultation of Employees Directive
  • Parental Leave Directive
  • Part-time Workers Directive
  • Posted Workers Directive
  • Pregnant Workers Directive
  • Racial Discrimination Directive
  • Working Time Directive
  • Young Workers Directive

It might well be possible to negotiate a clawback in a few of these areas. However, is it feasible, advisable or indeed necessary for any wholesale clawback of EU employment laws, particularly when it seems likely that some diluted version of these laws will then be enacted domestically by the UK Parliament?

For further information please contact:

This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.