RCN calls for clarity over nurses’ employment rights after the UK leaves the EU

Workers' rights are among the healthcare benefits at risk of dilution once the UK is outside the EU, says RCN
traffic lights

Workers' rights are among the healthcare benefits at risk of dilution once the UK is outside the EU, says RCN

The RCN is calling on the government to uphold nurses' existing employment rights once the UK has left the EU next year.

Workplace rights is one of the five healthcare issues the college wants ministers to prioritise as they prepare for Brexit. It has devised a 'traffic light' system to indicate how it grades risk associated with each topic. 

'No firm commitments'

The college says so far there has been no firm commitment from the UK government that EU regulations will be maintained after the UK exits the EU on 29 March 2019. The EU regulations cover issues such as working time protections to ensure safety for staff and patients, as well as maternity and paternity rights and holiday pay.

The RCN timed the publication of its traffic light warnings ahead of an EU meeting tonight to discuss Brexit deadlock.

RCN council chair Maria Trewern said: ‘We urge the government to focus as a priority on the areas we’ve identified, or else Britain will stumble towards Brexit with no clear idea of how patients, the public and the health and care workforce will be protected after next March.'

The RCN's 'traffic light' priorities

A red light denotes no firm commitment has been made by the UK government on resolving the issue, according to the RCN. Amber classification indicates there has been some UK government commitment or statement, but no agreement with the EU on practical application.

Red light issues

 EU regulations on professionals and medicines: including standardised rules on professional qualifications for informing all member states about banned – or struck-off – and suspended staff

 Public health: the UK could be excluded from a reporting system on risks from communicable diseases, post-Brexit

 Protecting workers’ rights: many health and safety and employment rights are adopted EU-wide

Amber light issues

Workforce: preserving the rights of the 35,000 EU nurses in the UK and developing a strategy for future migration of nurses

Research and nursing collaboration: maintaining relationships between EU nursing organisations for research, shared learning and experience


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