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Simon Boyd calls for serious review of safety laws following Brexit


The TUC has called on Prime Minister Theresa May to make clear to Britain’s bosses that “any watering down of workers’ rights following Brexit is off the table” following the emergence of a letter sent to MPs by Simon Boyd, the head of REIDsteel, which details a list of workers’ rights on areas such as working hours, holiday pay and health and safety that he wants abolished once Britain leaves the EU.

The letter, which calls for a “serious review” of safety laws, shows that some bosses who campaigned to leave the EU saw the Brexit vote as a means to an end for scrapping workers’ rights, says the TUC.

Mr Boyd, says that his medium-sized enterprise that employs 130 direct staff and around 400 indirect with a turnover circa £30M and the capacity to achieve £50, “has steadily been losing its advantage over other competing countries as a result of changes forced upon us through damaging directives and regulations that have come about as a result of our membership of the EU.”

Mr Boyd’s letter asks MPs to spare “a little of their valuable time to view annexed attachments so that they can see the serious damage membership of the EU causes to all UK based businesses and their staff, and in particular SMEs who cater for over 60% of employment in our country”.

The annexed attachments include:

  • the Working Time Directive (WTD) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) – ruling’s on the WTD;
  • employment law;
  • health and safety regulations; and
  • Construction Products Regulations (CPR):- the CE mark.

On health and safety Mr Boyd continues in his letter: “When the Construction Design and Management Regulations came into effect, the paperwork mountain grew significantly and the accident rate across the UK went up. Business owners then had to consider more administrative staff to deal with all the boxes that had to be ticked out of this regulation and the many others that have come into play since the introduction of the EU “six pack” in the mid 90’s”.

Adding: “While not all health and safety regulation is bad (some of it is good), bad employers continue to flout the rules as they are largely unpoliced and don’t care anyway; while the majority of hard working people are near having a mental breakdown over how to do their job. The result; a back covering highly administrative process has been allowed to grow which has negatively affected UK productivity levels.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The Leave campaign promised people more control over their lives. But now bad bosses are trying to hijack Brexit to let them walk all over working people. No-one voted to leave to lose vital protections like safe working hours and fair holiday pay.”

She added: “The Prime Minister promised working people that all rights and protections that come from the EU will be safe when Britain leaves. She must stand firm now, and guarantee that the UK will respect all existing rights at work. And she must go further and promise Britain’s workers that her government will mirror all new protections for workers in the rest of Europe while the UK is negotiating to leave to leave the EU.”

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Showing 20 comments
  • Peter T

    I’ve never really understood the “issue” employers have regarding the WTD. Is it really so difficult to get written agreement from an employee when asking them to regularly work more than 48hours per week? Especially considering the existing exemptions from the WTD? It would appear that when it comes to overtime (paid or unpaid) the employer wishes to be in a position to force compliance rather than just request it. Perhaps it’s indicative of their people management skills that they cannot gain cooperation from their workforce through simply being polite about what is in effect a deviation from the employment contract? In a background of minimal growth and rising prices, I’d have thought employees would be all too happy to be offered overtime (unless of course, it’s unpaid).

    • Paul Lawrence

      Well said Peter

    • Frank Sheppard

      Peter I agree with part of your comments and generally if an urgent job comes in workers are normally happy to go the extra mile as the old saying goes “you can’t do enough for a good guvnor” but construction does not have the facilities a nice warm factory office ware house or shop has the elements are drainers of strength cohesion and awareness and energy which is why more focus on the WTD should be paramount where construction is concerned.

  • Ronnie

    The 2015 CDM Regulations saw a reduction in the amount of paperwork and overall since their introduction in 94 they have helped to see a significant reduction in fatalities and injuries in the construction industry. They have also ensured that construction workers have basic amentities available for breaks, toilet facilities and places for drying wet clothes. Let’s not go back to those dark days again before 1994.

  • david_hazell

    Time to quit the H&S Industry and re-train as an Undertaker. This country has signed its own death warrant.

  • Graham

    I would not want to be the health and safety workers in this mans company. he either has scant regard for them – or maybe they are highly risk averse – although the steel industry is rather hazardous. It seems clear that he wants to reduce workers rights in order to gather more profit in traditional “race to the bottom” competition with foreign suppliers.

  • Patrick Mackie

    “No-one voted to leave to lose vital protections like safe working hours and fair holiday pay.”
    No, but plenty of people wanted us to leave so they could take those protections away from workers.

  • Tim

    From REID Steel website: Our Starfish Dinghy was designed specifically with children in mind to provide a small stable rowing boat that will give them hours of endless fun & activity. Starfish has the tangible benefits of being designed in accordance with the latest standards of safety legislation as employed by the European Union.

  • Frank Sheppard

    I am glad the UK has still got free speech because at least we are allowed to hear the whingeing giving out complaining employers who want to make maximum profits with as little outlay as possible regarding reasonable conditions. ASK any construction worker who after working thirty or fourty years in a Sh**ty industry who is hardly able to breath because their lungs are packing due to non containment of dust a lack of proper RPE, PPE, or ensuring proper equipment is in place as any reasonable person would do. Sounds like given the chance they would like to offer the same conditions as those workers in the middle east who when they protested about not getting paid and bad working conditions could opt for an alternative method of payment of receiving 300 lashes and a bonus of six months in jail.

    This is only the start of the uncontrolled arrogant bosses flexing there muscles in the hope that the uncertainty and deregulation that Brexit is producing will frighten the non organised workforce into accepting a job at any price. You have been warned.

  • John Mc

    While we do have EU rules and ‘so called additional red tape’ to deal with, many companies are required to sign up to and implement the Ethical Trade Initiative if they are to supply major customers or gain government objectives. These standards are employer driven so downgrading employment laws won’t make any difference as they will need to maintain these standards anyway.
    Yup, there will always be bad employers and trucks rolling down hills when the brakes fail, but these instances are no longer the norm, they are very rare and love it or hate it, it is legislation that has made these changes come about!

  • Vincent Theobald-Vega

    This is going to be the first of many “Victorian Virtues” bosses we hear from. The same type of people who in the 1880’s objected to the ‘Factories Acts’ and restrictions on employing children etc…
    I am confident that the increase of £20M that he cites for turnover will not be distributed to the workforce. After all – the minimum wage, holiday pay, sick pay, job security etc. will also be in the long hit list.

    Perhaps he would like to return to the pre-’74 days – when the law was applied separately for each type of equipment instead of those nasty European Risk Assessments (after all the introduction of the RA concept eliminated thousands of regulations).

    Or maybe we could go for the biblical building regulations – build what you like but if a person is killed in a building collapse because of your failures then you or one of your family will be put to death!

    On reflection the modern system is so much nicer – it just requires you to think and be reasonable – clearly not one of his strong points.

  • NIGEL Ellerton

    The Legislation covered by UK health and Safety law was generated in this country and instigated. The EU has a very poor H&S record apart from the UK . Safety in Europe is not taken to the same degree as in this country. Please do not confuse Trade Union European Directive with H&S Law it is totally seperate.

  • Rob Gwyther

    If Mr Boyd’s organisation has implemented CDM as “boxes that had to be ticked” and other health & safety legislation as a “back covering highly administrative process”, then they have been very poorly advised and they have gone off in the wrong direction. I (and I am sure any other Chartered Fellow or Chartered Member) would be happy to buy him a modest lunch and re-direct his managerial acumen in 1 – 2 hours. I am sure he is a decent man. Let’s get him on board with a little history, clarity, celebration and forward thinking. He is correct about the PROCESS some have adopted; that is not the fault of the LEGISLATION. The prawn cocktail is on me. The future is in his hands so let’s EXPLAIN NOT COMPLAIN.

    • Kevin Frost

      A sensible, pragmatic and realistic response which is exactly the type of approach that Mr Boyd has obviously not considered for his own stance on the future changes that will inevitably occur. The whole approach from his letter would worry anyone who wants to work with a progressive rather than regressive organisation. Next thing will be “I’ll pay the fine once someone gets hurt”, a statement I heard from a Senior Manager way back in 1992 when the Management Regulations came in.
      I voted out as way to gain a healthy working and sustainable future for my family, not to let them go back to Victorian tyranny at work.

    • Heather

      Nice one Rob

  • Roger Paling

    What Simon Boyd says reflects all right thinking health and safety (and other) people’s views in the UK and is a large way towards why the majority in the whole country voted for Brexit-precisely to get away from what is strangling UK SME’s-too much useless red tape!
    Clearly Unions try to oppose automatically anything that justifies their existence to their members (they have precious else to do for them these days except to strike which achieves absolutely nothing), but in the real world far too much management and workers’ time is wasted on covering their backs legally with the required mountains of paperwork needed.
    Other European countries do not do so to the same extent-all they do is create National Statutes in response to EU Directives but implementation is up to each country and never happens-that’s why you find fire exits nailed shut still and scaffold which is obviously unsafe on holiday in EU countries! They don’t take it seriously and we do which leads to un uneven playing field and our SME’s at a distinct competitive disadvantage.
    So let us get what the majority in the country asked for and take advantage of Brexit to get our necessary breathing space back!!!

    • Paul Philbin

      Firstly Roger, the whole country didn’t vote Brexit and secondly, Simon Boyd doesn’t reflect my views or any right thinking person I know working in the construction industry.

      I agree with you on the lack of H&S on the continent but this is reflected in the UK having the lowest accident statistics in Europe. Surely this justifies our adherence to H&S legislation if nothing else. Legislation by the way which stems from the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. Does he want to scrap that as well? And while we’re at it, why would he want to to scrap CE marking? Any decent steelwork contractor would be doing most of the EN 1090 requirements anyway, the CPR are to stop cowboys aren’t they?

      Lastly, the unions don’t call strikes the members do. And if you want to see red tape, you should see the hoops that a union has to go through these days to implement the actions voted for by their members.

      I’ve never posted a Comment before but Simon Boyd really pushed my buttons, I thought employers like him were a thing of the past. I’m guessing that his views are absent from REIDsteel’s sustainability policy etc.

    • Keith Lyall

      If we leave the unions and opposition from this and discuss as H&S professionals (which I presume you are), can you clarify exactly what you mean by “useless red tape”.
      Would be interested to understand what you mean, or is this a blanket statement too commonly used by individuals who do not understand the benefits of law?

  • Keith Lyall

    For H&S professionals, this is typical of the way in which safety law is viewed, not as a benefit, but a “hinderance” to good business (profit), nice to see someone on the kind of salary Simon Boyd is on advocate the removal of “employment law” and “H&S regulations”, he must be keen to be good to get back to the workhouse environment of unlimited working hours and no controls on chemicals/working time/holidays/sick pay or overtime etc. but these will very likely not affect him surely…………..may have a positive impact on dividends however…

  • Dale Banham

    I have to agree that many regulations require review and who advises companies. As a practitioner I constantly get frustrated by compliance bodies and companies that require SME RAMS reviewed because a Document controller, QS, Site Manager deems them not compatible with models that they are familiar with!!Many large UKCG companies dictate through these processes/CDM/CSCS which is still poorly administered and are now deeming certain college qualifications (HNC etc unsuitable and their NVQ required!!) what happened to HASWA 1974 etc Section 2.2 AFARP etc Cost v benefit!
    As far as employment law I had better working contractual arrangements pre 1990 and current system enables endless redundancy process abuses by companies (4 contract buy outs in 10 years but thats only down to unions support) Many of my highly qualified colleagues were made redundant in 2010 to make way for lower NEBOSH persons who do as they are told by now Operations Directors. Not many these days work to CEO/MD as responsibility has been cascaded to those who can bully or be bullied.
    Downsizing has reached its limit and a threshold has been reached with a balance review of where we are at holistically and where the future is to be is required. Sticking plasters will fail!!