My amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill was debated last week in the House of Commons. The amendment (NC79) sought to ensure that both women’s rights and the rights of workers and employees with caring responsibilities are no worse after Brexit than had Britain remained a member of the EU. The clause would enforce this by ensuring that Parliament is informed, after Brexit, if the EU provides any new rights that would have applied to Britons if the UK was still an EU member, and commits the Government to consider their implementation.
The EU has a strong history of developing employment and gender rights since the 1970s. There is a fear however, that Brexit could undermine four decades of progress. The Fawcett Society has previously said that while the Equality Act 2010 has achieved a great deal in terms of protecting women’s rights, it is essential that EU derived legislation and cooperation are safeguarded post-Brexit, given prevalence of gender inequality, discrimination and the gender pay gap.
New EU legislation is proposed on issues such as pay for parental & carers leave and measures to support women’s participation in labour markets leaving scope for the UK to fall behind. It is vital that we do not fall behind the EU in the years ahead. People voted to leave the EU for many varied reasons but they didn’t vote to be worse off. Our laws on this matter must be no less favourable than they would have been had the UK remained a member of the EU.
Unfortunately the Tories voted against my new clause and as such will not be included in the EU Withdrawal Bill. Nevertheless I am extremely grateful to the 295 MPs who voted for it, especially those that added their name to the clause & that helped me navigate the process.