SME business leader and Brexiteer Simon Boyd has written to MPs with a list of Health & Safety laws he wants abolished once the UK leaves the EU.
Mr Boyd, head of REIDsteel, believes EU membership offers nothing for the “clear majority” of SMEs. He hopes MPs will listen and understand the view that SMEs have been held back by bad EU directives and regulations.
Boyd believes there are many obstacles to working in the EU and that protectionism is rife. He says the playing field isn’t level and that the EU makes running SMEs more difficult. Boyd claims it is harder for SMEs to grow as investment is restricted and that “added costs and man-hours make it more difficult and less profitable to export to the rest of the world”.
Boyd is concerned Brexit will not deliver a “proper” EU exit and his letter calls for a “serious review” of safety laws. It includes a list of workers’ rights such as working hours, holiday pay and Health & Safety regulations he wants abolished on leaving the EU.
Boyd’s firm employs 130 people with a turnover of some £30m. He claims it has the capacity to achieve £50m but that they have steadily been losing their advantage over competitors by damaging EU directives and regulations.
Boyd asks MPs to consider the “serious damage” EU membership causes SMEs particularly through:
- The Working Time Directive (WTD) and the European Court of Justice’s rulings on the WTD
- Employment law
- Health & Safety regulations
- The Construction Products Regulations
- CE product conformity marking
Boyd’s letter notes how much the “paperwork mountain” grew after the 2007 Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) and that UK accident rates went up. He says businesses must have more admin staff to deal with all the box ticking from the CDM as well as the many other regulations since.
Boyd accepts not all Health & Safety laws are bad. But he believes rules are flouted by bad, largely unpoliced employers who don’t care anyway, while others are near mental breakdown over how to work. The result is said to be a growing “back covering” highly administrative process that negatively affects UK productivity.
Watered down workers’ rights
However, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) think Boyd’s letter shows the Brexit vote is being used by some businesses as a means of scrapping workers’ rights. Indeed, the TUC has called on the Prime Minister to make clear to bosses that “any watering down of workers’ rights following Brexit is off the table”.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady says she fears bad bosses will hijack Brexit and walk all over workers, claiming “No-one voted to leave to lose vital protections like safe working hours and fair holiday pay”. She adds the PM promised workers that all rights and protections from the EU would be safe when the UK leaves.
O’Grady says the PM must now guarantee the UK will respect all existing rights at work and promise that any new EU worker protections will be mirrored by her government while Brexit is negotiated.