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Government plans to scrap workplace protections to save businesses £1bn

THE government is set to undermine key workplace protections such as rest breaks, limits on excessive hours and paid holiday in order to save businesses £1 billion a year.

By exploiting freedoms under Brexit, the Department for Business and Trade is looking at removing the requirement on companies to record the number of hours each staff member works, according to a report in the Telegraph.

Currently, European Union law limits the amount of time most people have to work weekly to 48 hours under the Working Time Directive, though Britain has always applied exemptions to the limit.

It also enshrines in law the right to rest breaks and paid time off for 28 days per year, including bank holidays.

The rule can be opted out of if people work in jobs where 24-hour staffing is required or in the emergency services, though employers routinely compel staff to opt out in other sectors.

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch is reportedly going through more than 4,000 pieces of EU legislation that are still in UK law and hopes to remove around 800 by the end of the year.

The government has said that it has no intention of abandoning “our strong record on workers’ rights,” but that the Retained EU Law Bill will make sure Britain’s regulations “best serve the interests of the country.”

The Bill is currently being heard in Parliament and is expected to be amended to give ministers powers to remove further EU laws.

Trade unions have warned in the past that scrapping the directive completely could lead to more accidents at work and reduce employee wellbeing.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said that the Tories seem “intent on undermining our hard-won workers’ rights right before our eyes.”

He said: “People are already working all hours to make ends meet.

“Paid holiday and safety measures like rest breaks and limits on excessive hours are all fundamental protections — not a nice-to-have.

“This is a recipe for low-paid, burnt-out Britain.”

Mr Nowak said that the government must “dump the reckless” Bill which “threatens our essential workplace rights,” reminding it that it had been elected on a promise to make Britain the best place in the world to work.

“No holiday pay, long gruelling shifts in unsafe workplaces and an end to rest breaks are the last thing anybody needs,” he said.

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