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Roz SandersonRoz Sanderson is a previous editor of SHP. She currently lives and works in New Zealand.
April 4, 2017

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Repeal bill sets out plan to replace EU laws

The Great Repeal Bill has been published by UK government, setting out plans to ensure a functioning statute book once the UK has left the EU.

Addressing MP’s in the House of Commons on the 30 March, Seceretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, said the repeal bill would ensure “a smooth and orderly exit” from the EU.

European Communities Act

The European Communities Act 1972 (ECA) was the means by which the UK joined the EU in the 1970s. The first action of the bill is to repeal the ECA.

David Davis believes that repealing the law will “end the supremacy of EU law in this country”, however, he explains that “a simple repeal of the ECA would leave holes in our statute book”, and so in addition to repealing the ECA the bill will convert EU law into UK law.

Finally the Bill will allow for laws that aren’t operating appropraitely once we have left the EU to be corrected, so that the UK legal system “continues to function correctly outside the European Union”.


The Trade Union Congress has criticised the Bill for falling short of Prime Minister, Teresa May’s promise “to fully protect and maintain all workers’ rights that came from the EU”.

Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary, said: “The government proposes handing the power to change important rights and protections at work that British workers already have to judges. This means that important rules to protect workers could be overturned, without the UK Parliament having any say.

“The protections affected could include your rights to full holiday pay, equal pay for women, stopping indirect discrimination because of your race or gender, and help for workers when they are outsourced to a new boss.

“The government is also taking wide-ranging powers that will allow ministers to scrap or water down rights like protections from excessive working hours, equal treatment for agency workers, and redundancy protections.”

O’Grady urged the Prime Minsiter to carve out a specific exemption in the Bill to “stop holes being punched in the rights that working people in Britain currently have”.

Richard Jones, IOSH Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “As regards health and safety regulation post-Brexit, the ‘Great Repeal Bill’… will mean that the UK retains all EU-based health and safety laws, but that over time, our legislative provisions will be reviewed and may be amended.

“IOSH will remain vigilant and work to ensure there’s no erosion of health and safety standards in the future. IOSH has been clear that the Prime Minister’s reference to not only protecting, but enhancing worker’s rights, must include health and safety.”

Karen McDonnell, Head of RoSPA Scotland, posted a blog following the introduction of the Bill to parliament. She said: “While some berate the EU for telling us what to do in the world of health and safety, what they do not realise is that the rules they refer to were commonly created in UK law in the first place.

The UK is a world leader in the areas of road and workplace safety, with enviably low casualty rates; a world-class performance that has been hard-won through decades of investment in adopting evidence-based, life saving legislation and regulation, backed up by appropriate enforcement action.

“In fact, we are so good at protecting our road users and workers that our cousins in the EU consistently borrow the legislation that we create here, and export it across the continent.

“The UK will only continue to be the safest place in the world to live if we protect our world-leading approach to health and safety.”



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John M
John M
7 years ago

I think someone needs to proof-read this properly; several references are made to a book about statues…

Graham Peters
Graham Peters
7 years ago

come of it, the UK’s H & S system is crap, 90% of the construction industry do not trust H & S , the workforce think nothing of RAMS, CDM/CPP and very little of it gets read again. CSCS are a con, and people no it, H & S paperwork is a bind and an unnecessary thorn in the side of H & S on site. Work management do not have the inclination to take on H & S concerns at site level because if they did their managers would be on them like a ton of bricks to get… Read more »