The EU has created a number of directives and regulations, relating to Workers’ Rights, that have been enshrined in European Law.
Every EU worker has certain minimum rights relating to:
- health and safety at work: general rights and obligations, workplaces, work equipment, specific risks and vulnerable workers
- equal opportunities for women and men: equal treatment at work, pregnancy, maternity leave, parental leave
- protection against discrimination based on sex, race, religion, age, disability and sexual orientation
- labour law: part-time work, fixed-term contracts, working hours, employment of young people, informing and consulting employees
For example, the EU’s Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC) requires EU countries to guarantee the following rights for all workers:
- a limit to weekly working hours, which must not exceed 48 hours on average, including any overtime
- a minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours in every 24
- a rest break during working hours if the worker is on duty for longer than 6 hours
- a minimum weekly rest period of 24 uninterrupted hours for each 7-day period, in addition to the 11 hours’ daily rest
- paid annual leave of at least 4 weeks per year
- extra protection for night workers
- average working hours must not exceed 8 hours per 24-hour period,
- night workers must not perform heavy or dangerous work for longer than 8 hours in any 24-hour period,
- night workers have the right to free health assessments and, under certain circumstances, to transfer to day work.
There are separate directives on working hours for certain workers in specific transport sectors.
Other examples of Workers’ Rights include
- Equal treatment for part-time workers
- Rights for new mums
- 18 weeks of parental leave
- Equal pay for equal work
- Health and safety
- Protection if your company is bought out
- Protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, sexuality, gender reassignment status, belief, and age.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC)
have produced a document exploring UK employment rights and the EU
UK employment rights and the EU – Assessment of the impact of membership of the European
Union on employment rights in the UK
which is available at