People voted to leave the EU for many varied reasons, but they did not vote to be worse off, Lewisham West and Penge MP Ellie Reeves has told the House of Commons.

Speaking to new clause 79, in her name and in the names of other MPs, Ellie Reeves said:

“We have a collective responsibility to ensure that we help to protect the rights of workers and employees among the cut and thrust of the Brexit negotiations.

“People voted to leave the EU for many varied reasons, but they did not vote to be worse off.

“Our laws on these matters must be no less favourable than they would have been had the UK remained a member of the EU beyond exit day. Indeed, the EU may well go on to legislate in ways with which we do not agree.

“The wording of new clause 79 is clear; it is there to inform, not to commit. “The new clause is not about binding the UK into implementing future EU directives in the family-friendly employment and gender equality space.

“Rather, it would ensure that Parliament is informed of any developments and would commit the Government to considering their implementation.

“The family-friendly rights that come from Europe are not the bureaucratic, over-zealous red tape that some members would have us believe.

“They encapsulate the idea that individuals can be employed without discrimination and treated fairly at work, and that expectant mothers can be given the right to maternity leave without fear of losing their job.

“At the general election in June, Members of this House stood on a manifesto that pledged to protect workplace rights, and I hope that we will consider those pledges.

“The 1976 equal treatment directive established the principle of equal treatment for men and women in access to jobs, training and working conditions;

“the 1992 pregnant workers directive provided for statutory maternity leave, protected the health and safety of pregnant workers and breastfeeding mothers, prohibited dismissal due to pregnancy or maternity, and introduced paid time off for antenatal care;

the 1993 working time directive provided a maximum 48-hour working week, and the right to rest periods and paid holiday; the 1996 parental leave directive provided for the right to unpaid parental leave, as well as time off for dependants;

and the 1997 part-time work directive prevented part-time workers from being treated less favourably than full-time employees.

“All these measures have helped to improve the work-life balance and family-friendly employment rights in the UK, and it is vital that we should not fall behind Europe in the years ahead.

“To dismiss the last four decades of progress without looking to the future would be to set a dangerous precedent, which fills me with deep concern.

“I recognise that the UK has voted to leave the European Union. “It is an outcome that I did not vote for, but it is the position in which we find ourselves.

“It is now incumbent on us to strengthen this legislation ahead of our exit from the Union. “We can only achieve this fully by recognising what European integration has done for us over the past 40 years, and the ways in which we can help one another.”

Source: TheyWorkForYou Charter of Fundamental Rights – Government Report European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons 21st November 2017.

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