GMB Experts in the World of Work
Join GMB today
 Follow @GMB_union

GMB Issues Workers’ Rights Warning as Minister Casts Fresh Doubt on Post-brexit Protections

Monday, November 7, 2016

Union reveals Europe Minister’s failure to guarantee workers’ rights after Referendum.

GMB, Britain’s General Union, today warned Theresa May Government could further erode workers’ rights in the aftermath of Brexit.

Revealing answers from Europe Minister David Jones to a Parliamentary Question casts fresh doubt on the Government’s willingness to protect workers’ rights in cases where companies changed hands, the union said workers’ now needed a “cast-iron” guarantee their rights would be defended.

The warning came as MPs prepare to debate ‘Exiting the EU and workers' rights’ in the House of Commons this afternoon.

Asked by Shadow Brexit Minister Matthew Pennycook whether the Government would give domestic effect to the Acquired Rights Directive - which protects employment status in transfer of company ownership and safeguards employee representaton – the Europe Minister stopped short of confirming the directive would be converted into domestic law [1].

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary said:

"We've consistently raised concerns that Brexit could be used by the Conservatives as a means to further erode workers' rights and this ambiguous, non-committal response from the Minister offers little comfort to GMB members, workers or the British people. The Prime Minister needs to give a cast-iron guarantee that workers' rights will be protected during the negotiations."

Matthew Pennycook MP, Shadow Brexit Minister said:

"The Minister’s response will do nothing to allay the concerns of British workers who suspect that the Government’s stated commitment to preserving their rights at work is merely cosmetic. The Government owes it to the working people of Britain to set out precisely how all of their existing legal rights at work will be guaranteed in law once we have left the EU”.


Contact: GMB press office on 07958 156846 or at


[1] Conditions of Employment: EU Law:Written question – 50829

Q.  Asked by Matthew Pennycook(Greenwich and Woolwich) Asked on: 27 October 2016


To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, whether he plans to give domestic effect to the Acquired Rights Directive 2001/23/EC through the forthcoming Repeal Bill.

A. Answered by: Mr David Jones

Answered on: 03 November 2016

The Government will bring forward legislation in the next session that, when enacted, will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and ensure a functioning statute book on the day we leave the EU. This ‘Great Repeal Bill’ will end the authority of EU law and return power to the UK. The Bill will convert existing European Union law into domestic law, wherever practical.

The Government will set out the content of the Bill and its implications in due course.

[2] Directive 2001/23/EC - on the safeguarding of employees' rights when the ownership of a company or business is transferred

Share this page