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Common rights in a single market? The EU and rights at work in the UK

Common rights in a single market

September 2014

There has been growing debate about Britain’s membership of the European Union in recent years. For those who would repatriate powers from the EU, one of the main focuses of discontent is the influence it has over employment regulation in the UK.


It is clear that the EU has played a fundamental role in extending and expanding rights at work in the UK. It has done so across a broad array of rights; from protection from discrimination to protection for atypical workers; from rights for working parents to regulation of working time; from health and safety to information, consultation and employee voice. In some cases, EU action has built on existing rights, in others it has conferred rights in completely new areas. The EU has had a significant influence over broad areas of social legislation, and has made a real difference to working people in the UK.


This research examines the process by which the EU has influenced rights at work in the UK. It looks at the areas of workplace rights that have been shaped by EU and the impact this has had on working people.


The impact of EU employment regulation on British businesses and the economy is also examined. The claim that Britain is over-regulated and over-burdened by red tape coming from Brussels is challenged - the UK labour market remains one of the least regulated in the developed world.

Finally, the report examines the case for a continued role for the EU in coordinating rights at work across member states.

You may also download the PDF for this publication