Brexit at work: Advice for reps

While the news headlines on Brexit are dominated by politics, leaving the EU will be an industrial issue first and foremost for Unite members.

From pay, to changes to terms and conditions, and support for colleagues unsure about their status post-Brexit, it is in the workplace where we must proactively organise to shape how Brexit is experienced.

As a workplace representative these are the steps you can take today.

Employer Brexit Planning: Your Right to Consultation

Many employers are proactively working on contingency plans to understand and forecast the impact of Brexit. We must use our sectors’ national agreements as well as any local collective agreements and Consultation and Information Agreements to make sure our members are properly consulted on these plans and that the potential risks or costs of Brexit are not simply handed down to the workforce.

Brexit at the Bargaining Table

From pay to terms and conditions, Brexit is a bargaining issue. We must use pay and other negotiations with the employer to push for guarantees that working rights will be protected within our collective agreements following Brexit. We must also expose any attempt by opportunistic employers seeking to use Brexit as a smokescreen to hold down pay or undermine conditions. In our sectors employers must not be allowed to use uncertainty around European funding opportunistically, the Government must be lobbied to match any lost funds.

Know Your Rights at Work

Employers cannot opt out of EU legal rulings, such as the ruling protecting holiday pay entitlement, which remain in effect. Similarly, employers cannot claim that EU legislation such as the Working Time Directive no longer apply in the UK.

Employer Advice: Right to Remain

From paid time off to assistance in completing paperwork, employers must support workers from the European Union who are concerned about their status or are looking to apply for UK citizenship.

European Works Councils

There is currently no guarantee that European Works Councils will be protected in UK law after Brexit; however, we can be proactive by pushing for our EWC constitutions to be amended to protect participation, consultation and voting rights for UK reps. A draft amendment is available from our EWC experts in the Unite International Department.