The TUC is warning today (Monday) that Brexit would make it easier for employers to impose pay cuts and worse conditions on workers in firms that are sold to a new owner, or services that are contracted out.
Government figures suggest that close to a million (910,000) workers each year are affected by such transfers, and protected by the EU-derived Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations – known as TUPE.
Two of the largest employment sectors in which TUPE transfers of employees are common are cleaning and domestic services.
TUC analysis of labour market data finds that of 612,000 low-paid people in cleaning and domestic work, nearly three-quarters (74%) are women. And of 480,000 people working in the kitchen and catering assistants sector, nearly two-thirds (63%) are women. The majority of women working in each sector are also part-time workers.
The TUC says that this is further evidence that it is low-paid female workers who tend to be at particular risk of losing employment rights from Brexit.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“If you’ve ever worked for a company that’s been taken over, or a service that’s been contracted out, you will know how worrying it can be to get transferred to a new boss. But thankfully there are EU rules that stop the new boss cutting your pay and conditions overnight.
“But if we leave the EU, those guarantees are gone. Lots of employers are itching to persuade politicians to scrap these protections – and if we leave the EU they’d have the chance they’ve been waiting for.
“Low-paid women workers are especially at risk. This is because jobs like cleaners and caterers are amongst those most likely to be contracted out. The best way to protect working people from losing these rights is to vote Remain so we keep the current EU rules.”