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The head of the UK’s leading health, safety and wellbeing organisation, British Safety Council, is calling on MPs to oppose attempts by the UK Government to erase thousands of regulations which protect people at work and as consumers, when the Retained EU Law (REUL) Bill returns to the House of Commons this week on Wednesday (18 January).

Peter McGettrick, Chairman of British Safety Council, said:

“Politicians on all sides should act in the interests of the British people when it comes to keeping people safe, the first duty of any Government. That’s why MPs should stand up for people’s safety and oppose the ill-conceived Retained EU Law Bill, which threatens to open a legal black hole in our statute book.

“These are the regulations which give people rights to holiday pay at work, safe working hours, or protections from hazardous chemicals. These rules help businesses plan, invest and grow for the future, and give people certainty and confidence in the products they buy.

“If leaving the EU was about making our own decisions about our future, this Bill simply hands that power to individual Ministers who could change laws without giving Parliament a say. That’s why it is so crucial that MPs stand up for people’s safety and oppose the current Bill when it returns to the Commons this week.

“Last week, we learned some departments are having to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds, and devote hundreds of civil servants’ time to reviewing which laws to chop, which to change and which to keep – surely a distraction at a time when every penny counts.

“We are calling on the Government to drop the unrealistic deadline of the end of this year to review, revoke or amend over 4000 pieces of legislation - and, if not, scrap this ill-conceived and, frankly, dangerous Bill.”

Key points on the Retained EU Law (REUL) Bill:

  • Many of the areas it covers underpin and define protections, standards, and regulations we now take for granted, in our workplaces, shops and communities, as well as health and safety.
  • The regulations affected by it determine everything from PPE provided to protect people in work, working at height, manual handling, and dealing with asbestos.
  • While workers in the UK will still be covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), as well as common law, the REUL Bill creates uncertainty as to exactly what will and will not remain in UK law covering huge swathes of employment practice beyond the end of 2023.
  • Regulators will also be under increased pressure and may require more resource to fulfil their remit without a workable regulatory framework.