Is government considering longer working week post-Brexit?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the construction site of the new vaccines Manufacturing and Inno

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visiting a construction site back in September. - Credit: PA

The government is reportedly considering extending the working week and changing how holiday pay is calculated post-Brexit. 

According to reports, a package of measures is being drawn up in an attempt to free business from regulation previously imposed by the EU. 

The working time directive could be brought to an end while the rules around rest breaks how holiday pay is calculated could be changed.

Currently, the working time directive states that you cannot work more than 48 hours per week on average.

While there are a number of occupations exempt from the rule and it has always been possible for those over 18 to opt out, this had led Labour politicians to brand the idea a "disgrace".

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said:  “There is immense loss, sadness and uncertainty in our country just now. No decent government would pick this moment to launch an attack on the rights of its citizens.

"The people who have kept this country fed, safe and supported under unimaginable pressures deserve so much better than to be threatened with the loss of their basic rights.”

TUC boss Frances O'Grady added: “The government promised that it would strengthen workers’ rights – not weaken them."

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Despite the reports, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has insisted ministers are not planning to “lower” workers’ rights.

He tweeted: "We are not going to lower the standards of workers’ rights.

"The UK has one of the best workers’ rights records in the world – going further than the EU in many areas.

“We want to protect and enhance workers’ rights going forward, not row back on them.”

Reports say that the package of options have been drawn up by officials and have been drawn up and shown to certain business leaders but have not yet been put to a vote in cabinet.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said labour market policy was kept under “regular review” to ensure businesses had the “appropriate freedoms and flexibility to innovate and grow” while safeguarding protections for workers.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We will continue to look at policies to help stimulate business growth, innovation and job creation but those policies would never be at the expense of workers’ rights.”

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