What would Brexit mean for our workforce?


As the pressure starts to build in the run-up to the EU referendum in June, Kelly Abel looks at what the EU has done to assist HR in the NHS and asks whether the NHS would benefit from a Brexit.
 
So to politics…
 
I know it’s everywhere at the moment and this weekend I had three leaflets trying to get me to agree that an exit is the only way. The Conservative party has agreed to hold an in-out referendum on the UK's continuing membership of the EU on Thursday 23 June. It’s still not clear what would be at risk if we leave or renegotiate our membership terms.
 
Much time and resource has been spent on implementing the EWTD over the years and trying to navigate the issue of junior doctors and how their time in training and service is spent – not to mention navigating EU influence on UK employment rights! So let us consider for a moment the impact this has had on our daily lives. In the main (aside from some party cross-cover on some issues), what has the EU given to us?
 
        Minimum paid annual leave
        Additional rights for agency and temporary workers and for part-time workers
        Current pregnancy and maternity leave rights
        Parental leave, and additional parental leave and choice
        Working time (which includes a maximum of a 48-hour week unless you agree otherwise, and minimum rest breaks each day)
        Equal pay
        Anti-discrimination rules on race, sex, disability, age and sexual orientation
        Data protection rights
        Employment laws derived from the EU regarding transfers of undertakings, collective redundancies and works councils
        A ruling from the European court that says you cannot be discriminated against for your political beliefs (this is not presently covered by existing UK employment law).
 
The other side of the coin though has been the extensive wants from the EU for such employment rights have been seen by the UK government as frustrating a flexible workforce and adding red-tape and increased costs to businesses.
 
Professor Angus Dalgleish, one of the country’s leading cancer specialists, recently stated at a conference entitled ‘The Good Life after Brexit’ that part of the NHS £3billion deficit is explained by health tourism. Thousands of health tourists from across the EU who cannot get certain drugs or treatments in their home country come to Britain and demand them as EU citizens. EU directives have already harmed cutting edge medical research by British laboratories into major diseases and he argued that the EU’s Working Time Directive has “destroyed the NHS” and meant training standards “have been hit so hard they have slipped to worrying levels and patient care has suffered”. 
 
If there was a departure from the EU – what impact would this have for you and your organisation?
 
Do you think that the NHS would benefit from such a move?
 
Kelly Abel is Head of Workforce for the Cancer Programme at Guy's and St Thomas's Foundation NHS Trust

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