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Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023

Volume 834: debated on Wednesday 13 December 2023

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved by

That the Grand Committee do consider the Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023.

Relevant document: 3rd Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (special attention drawn to the instrument).

My Lords, on 12 May 2023, the Government launched a consultation on three areas that could benefit from reform and where we could remove unnecessary bureaucracy: record-keeping requirements under the Working Time Regulations; simplifying annual leave and holiday pay calculations in the Working Time Regulations; and consultation requirements under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations—the TUPE regulations. The consultation sought views on proposals for these areas of retained EU employment law to ensure that they are tailored to the needs of the UK economy.

I turn first to the record-keeping requirements. The Working Time Regulations are derived from the EU working time directive and create various entitlements for workers, including minimum rest breaks and maximum working hours, as well as an entitlement to paid annual leave. While the regulations provide important protections to workers, they can also place disproportionate burdens on business in relation to recording working hours and other administrative requirements. That is why we consulted on removing the effects of a 2019 judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which held that employers must have an objective, reliable and accessible system enabling the duration of time worked each day by each worker to be measured. Our proposed regulations make it clear that employers will not be required to keep burdensome and disproportionate records of daily working hours of each worker. Instead, employers will need to keep adequate records to demonstrate compliance with their working time obligations—I stress that point. This clarification could help to save businesses around £1 billion a year, without changing workers’ rights.

I assure noble Lords that people will continue to be able to enforce their rights under these regulations. Workers can take a case to an employment tribunal where they feel they have not been permitted to exercise their rights under the Working Time Regulations, including the rights to annual leave and to daily and weekly rest. The Health and Safety Executive, other state enforcement bodies and local authorities can also directly enforce maximum working hours and record-keeping requirements. It is important that employers comply with the Working Time Regulations and that they are held to account if they do not.

I turn to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006. Before a TUPE transfer, the current employer and the new employer need to consult the affected workforce’s existing representatives or arrange elections for employees to elect a new representative if they are not already in place before the transfer. We want to simplify the process for businesses where worker representatives are not already in place. Currently, micro-businesses have the flexibility to consult directly with workers rather than hold elections. The SI would extend that flexibility to small businesses, with fewer than 50 employees, undertaking a transfer of any size and to businesses of all sizes involved in transfers of fewer than 10 employees if there are no existing employee representatives in place. That means that they will not be required to undertake the time-consuming process of arranging elections for new employee representatives.

This reform will simplify the TUPE process, while ensuring that workers’ rights continue to be protected. It does not erode the role of trade unions in the work- place. We are only proposing changing the consultation process in instances where businesses do not have employee representatives to consult. Where employee representatives, including trade unions, are in place, employers will still be required to consult them. I make it clear that the reforms will not change the requirement for businesses to consult employees on transfers; they will only change the requirement to elect employee representatives if they are not in place. Clear guidelines remain in place for employers regarding what they must consult employees on. Employers who fail to properly consult their employees about TUPE transfers could be taken to an employment tribunal.

The regulations also introduce reforms to holiday entitlement and pay. We have defined irregular-hours and part-year workers in these regulations to ensure that they are clear to employers and workers to whom some of the reforms apply. How a worker is classified will depend on the precise nature of their contractual working arrangements. We encourage employers to ensure that working patterns are clear in their workers’ contracts. We recognise that there are a vast number of different working patterns. The definitions seek to take all of these into account, so that the regulations are relevant for modern working practices. We will keep them under review.

I turn now to the holiday accrual method for irregular-hours and part-year workers. The regulations respond to the 2022 Harpur Trust v Brazel Supreme Court judgment. This resulted in part-year workers being entitled to a larger holiday entitlement than part-time workers who work the same total number of hours across the year. To address this disparity, the regulations introduce a simplified method to calculate holiday entitlement for irregular-hours and part-year workers. This will be calculated as 12.07% of hours worked in a pay period, in the first year of employment and beyond. This accrual method was widely used before the Harpur Trust judgment and better reflects what workers actually work in a leave year. The introduction of this accrual method could save businesses up to £150 million over the long term.

The regulations also introduce a method to work out how much leave an irregular-hours or part-year worker has accrued when they take maternity leave, family-related leave or sick leave. Introducing a 52-week reference period will allow employers to look back and work out an average of hours worked across that period. Employers will need to include weeks not worked and not on maternity leave, family-related leave or sick leave so that leave is proportionate to the time actually worked. This will ensure that workers are not unfairly disadvantaged when on maternity leave, family-related leave or sick leave. For example, if an irregular-hours worker goes on maternity leave, her holiday entitlement is reflective of how much she worked in the 52 weeks prior to going on maternity leave.

We are also legislating to allow the introduction of rolled-up holiday pay for irregular-hours and part-year workers. Rolled-up holiday pay is where an employer includes an additional amount with every payslip to cover a worker’s holiday pay, as opposed to paying holiday pay when a worker takes annual leave. We consulted on introducing rolled-up holiday pay for all workers. However, taking into account stakeholder feedback, rolled-up holiday pay will be introduced as an additional method of calculating holiday pay for irregular-hours and part-year workers only. Employers do not have to use rolled-up holiday pay for these workers if it does not suit their business; they can continue to use the 52-week reference period to calculate holiday pay.

Employers that use rolled-up holiday pay will calculate it based on a worker’s total earnings in a pay period. This will avoid the complexity of applying the rolled-up holiday calculation to different rates of holiday pay. Despite the fact that it has been unlawful since the 2006 European Court of Justice case of Robinson-Steele v RD Retail Services, rolled-up holiday pay is already used in a lot of sectors due to the simplicity that it offers to calculate holiday pay for irregular-hours workers. Allowing holiday pay to be paid as an enhancement to a worker’s pay at the time that the worker performed work instead of when they are on holiday will ensure that the worker’s holiday pay is as closely aligned as possible to the pay that they would have received. Rolled-up holiday pay also ensures that a worker receives the holiday pay that they are due even if they work for that business for only a short period of time. For example, an irregular-hours worker who works for a company over a period of three months will receive holiday pay as part of each payslip.

We note the concerns that allowing rolled-up holiday pay may disincentivise workers from taking leave. Compared with full-time workers, people who work irregular hours and part-year contracts are already likely to have periods when they are not working and, as a result, these concerns are less applicable. We also consider that existing safeguards are proportionate in addressing these concerns. For example, employers are already required to provide an opportunity for workers to take leave and we have heard through our stakeholder engagement that this is taking place. We also have safe- guards in relation to the 48-hour working week, where a worker cannot work more than 48 hours a week on average, unless they choose to opt out.

I turn now to the issue of retaining two rates of holiday pay and distinct pots of leave. We consulted on a further reform: the introduction of a single annual leave entitlement with a single rate of pay. We will not introduce this as part of the package. These regulations maintain the two distinct pots of annual leave and the two existing rates of holiday pay, so that workers will continue to receive four weeks at the normal rate of pay and 1.6 weeks at the basic rate of pay, totalling 5.6 weeks. Following a review of case law in this area and engagement with stakeholders, we are legislating to restate the case law in respect of the four weeks of leave. This is to ensure that workers continue to receive pay for those weeks at their normal pay rate, rather than having the whole pot paid at the basic rate, which for some workers can be a reduced amount. The intention is for workers to continue to enjoy the same rates of holiday pay from 1 January as they do now. We would like to assess the take-up of rolled up holiday pay and then consider more fundamental reforms to the rate of holiday pay. This will allow employers to continue with their current payroll systems, while providing clarity on what elements form part of normal remuneration.

I turn to restatements and revocations. In addition to these reforms, the statutory instrument revokes the European Cooperative Society (Involvement of Employees) Regulations 2006 and the Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020. The main European co-operative society regulations were repealed in 2021 and the regulations on involvement of employees therefore no longer have any effect in practice. The Covid regulations referred to in the statutory instrument were introduced as temporary legislation intended to prevent workers from losing annual holiday entitlement if they were unable to take it due to the effects of Covid. Therefore, these regulations are clearly no longer needed.

The scope of the statutory instrument is limited to Great Britain, other than the revocation of the European Cooperative Society (Involvement of Employees) Regulations 2006, which extends to Northern Ireland. Employment law in Northern Ireland is a transferred matter.

In addition, the statutory instrument mitigates the risk that the removal of interpretive effects on employment law could lead to a reduction in workers’ rights by restating the following three principles: the right to carry over annual leave where an employee has been unable to take it due to being on maternity or other family-related leave or sick leave; the right to carry over annual leave where the employer has failed to inform the worker of their right to paid annual leave or enable them to take it; and the rate of pay for annual leave accrued under regulation 13 of the working time regulations.

Northern Ireland has its own employment legislation. Accordingly, any secondary legislation on this would be for the Northern Ireland Executive, or the Northern Ireland Civil Service in their absence, to decide, with support from the UK Government to legislate if needed.

Although interpretive effects will cease from the end of 2023, the Government’s position is that the UK will remain in compliance with our international obligations under Article 2 of the Windsor Framework. The REUL Act’s restatement powers are available until June 2026. Therefore, the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Civil Service will keep all decisions on restatements under continuous review in both Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

As mentioned, the Government’s approach to restatements seeks to mitigate the risk that the removal of interpretive effects on employment law could lead to a reduction in workers’ rights. We undertook an analysis of the employment law, including domestic and EU legislation and case law, to assess the full extent of the risk that certain principles would be lost. Our assessment concluded that the three principles we are restating carried a high level of risk of being lost because they are largely or wholly dependent on the special features of EU law that are removed by the 2023 Act with effect from 1 January 2024. Therefore, the instrument will restate the three principles before the end of 2023 to ensure these employment rights continue, notwithstanding the removal of the special features of EU law by the 2023 Act. We are confident that these changes comply with our international legal obligations, including those in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

In conclusion, under this Government we have seen employment reach near record highs. The number of payroll employees for September 2023 was 30.2 million, 370,000 higher than this time last year and 1.2 million higher than before the pandemic. Through Brexit we regained the ability to regulate autonomously, and we are using these new freedoms to ensure that our regulations are tailored to the needs of the United Kingdom economy. In addition to providing cost and administrative savings for businesses, these reforms aim to provide clarity on complex holiday pay legislation so that it is simpler for employers to follow and comply. Approximately 5.1 million workers will be affected by the holiday pay reforms. By simplifying the legislation, workers will receive the holiday entitlement and holiday pay that they are entitled to, and the restatements of the three principles mentioned above will retain existing rights. I beg to move.

My Lords, this draft statutory instrument is the tip of the iceberg which noble Lords on this side of the House warned would appear over the horizon during the debates on the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023. Workers’ rights are on a collision course with it. We said that the Act would be used to remove workers’ rights. We moved amendments to try to protect those rights, but they were all rejected by the Government. For example, the then Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, said:

“I should say straightaway, as my noble friend Lord Callanan already has, that this Government have no intention of abandoning our strong record on workers’ rights, and nor are the delegated powers intended to undermine the UK’s high standards on workers’ rights.

Our high standards were never dependent on our membership of the EU. Indeed, the UK provides for stronger protections for workers”.

She then gave some examples.

The noble Baroness continued:

“These proposals do not remove rights or change entitlements but instead remove unnecessary bureaucracy in the way that these rights or entitlements operate, allowing business to benefit from the additional freedoms that we have through Brexit. The proposed conditions on workers’ rights in the”—

particular amendment under discussion—

“are unnecessary”.—[Official Report, 15/5/23; cols. 116-7.]

The noble Lord, Lord Callanan, had said much the same thing in debates on 6 and 23 February.

Of the four things that this statutory instrument proposes, I will deal with the first, which proposes to remove the protection against rolled-up holiday pay. The purpose of the elimination of rolled-up holiday pay was to remove a disincentive on workers to taking their holidays with pay, as required under EU law, in particular for the protection of health and safety at work—see the case already cited, Robinson-Steele v RD Retail Services.

Secondly, the proposed statutory instrument will also reverse the judgment of our own Supreme Court in Harpur Trust v Brazel that annual leave entitlement is to be calculated by accrual on the basis of 12.07% of annual hours worked, instead of a standard 5.6 weeks to be taken when the worker reasonably requests it. The effect of the statutory instrument in that regard will be to cut holiday pay entitlement for many workers.

The impact assessment calculates this loss at no less than £248 million per annum. It describes that as a “transfer to employers”, and so it is. In the middle of a cost of living crisis, this Government are putting their hands into the pockets of workers to extract, each year, £248 million and transfer that sum to employers—presumably to celebrate Brexit. It is as if the Government were urging workers to strike for higher pay.

Thirdly, the statutory instrument, in effect, removes the requirement on employers to keep adequate records to show that working time does not exceed 48 hours per week. For the purpose of guaranteeing health and safety, such a record system must currently measure the duration of hours worked by each worker and, as the noble Lord mentioned, must be objective, reliable and accessible—see Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras v Deutsche Bank. One would have thought that it was essential, not just for health and safety but also for the calculation of pay, for employers to keep objective, reliable and accessible records of hours worked. However, under the proposed statutory instrument, the requirement is merely to have records that

“are adequate to show whether the employer has complied”.

Clearly, the quality of record keeping is going to fall and more workers are going both to unlawfully exceed the maximum working time and to find that they are not paid for all the hours that they actually work.

The fourth aspect of the statutory instrument is the amendment to the TUPE regulations, the effect of which would be to exempt consultation with worker representatives, prior to transfer, for certain classes of workers. Existing law already exempts small employers with fewer than 10 workers; the statutory instrument will exempt employers with up to 50 workers.

I looked earlier this afternoon at the government statistics for October 2023, which show that there are 1,448,000 employers in this country, of whom only 43,615 employ more than 50 workers. In other words, this statutory instrument will exempt 97% of all employers from the consultation requirement in that regard. That means that, for them, prior consultation on TUPE transfers is effectively a dead letter. I hope the Government will make it clear to the constituencies in the red wall that that is what they voted for when they voted to “get Brexit done”.

Many other points were eloquently made in the other place by the shadow Minister, Justin Madders—no doubt my noble friend will make more in a moment—but I will not develop them here. However, I end with a question to the Minister: how can these reductions in worker protection, particularly in the field of health and safety at work, be squared with the United Kingdom’s obligations under the trade and co-operation agreement?

At the risk of going on longer than I should, I remind noble Lords that Article 386.1 of the trade and co-operation agreement defines labour and social levels of protection as

“the levels of protection provided overall in a Party’s law and standards, in each of the following areas”,

which include

“occupational health and safety standards”.

Article 387.2 states:

“A Party shall not weaken or reduce, in a manner affecting trade or investment between the Parties, its labour and social levels of protection below the levels in place at the end of the transition period, including by failing to effectively enforce its law and standards”.

Clearly, transferring costs from employees to employers does affect trade or investment, but there is more to it than that, because Article 399.5 says:

“Each Party commits to implementing all the ILO Conventions that the United Kingdom and the Member States have respectively ratified and the different provisions of the European Social Charter that, as members of the Council of Europe, the Member States and the United Kingdom have respectively accepted”.

I will not go through all the ILO conventions, but I will mention ILO convention 187—the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention —which the UK ratified. However, the European Social Charter of the Council of Europe provides, at Article 3:

“With a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right to safe and healthy working conditions, the Contracting Parties undertake … to issue safety and health regulations … to provide for the enforcement of such regulations by measures of supervision … to consult, as appropriate, employers’ and workers’ organisations on measures”—

blah, blah, blah. Clearly, reductions in working time health and safety protection will breach ILO and European Social Charter standards and, hence, the trade and co-operation agreement. Would the Minister be good enough to explain how that circle is to be squared by these regulations?

My Lords, it is a pleasure to take part in this debate. It is a particular pleasure to be under the chairmanship of my noble friend Lord Stansgate. We are long-term colleagues; we worked together many years ago. As I said, it is a pleasure to see him in the chair.

My noble friend Lord Hendy has really said it all. I have very little to add, but I will say something specifically about the TUPE regulations to make it clear to the Minister and the Government in general that people do care, that these provisions are important and valid, and that they deliver real benefits to workers.

No doubt the Minister will tell us in his reply that the changes proposed are very limited, which raises the question of why the Government are bothering to make these changes. There is no evidence presented to us that in any way suggests that there was an upswell of demand to get rid of these provisions. It is as if the civil servants—the officials—were told, “We’ve got to show that we’re doing something with these new powers”. On this provision, the TUPE part—I make no comment on the other parts of the regulations—it is as if they were told, “Let’s work out what’s the smallest change we can possibly make to claim that Brexit is having some advantage”. What is that big advantage? Some people are not necessarily going to be consulted if they had been consulted previously.

The results of the consultation as presented to us were very much as one would expect. When asked, “Would you like to get rid of this requirement?”, some people said “Yes, we would”. Equally, there were a lot more people who said, “No, we still need these protections”. In truth, the consultation told us nothing that we did not already know.

I emphasise that the changes are limited, but I am still against them on the grounds of death by a thousand cuts. If you come back and chip away at workers’ rights time after time, sooner or later you find that there are serious depredations in the protection that we rightly provide for working people. Will the Minister repeat, for the purposes of this Committee, the reassuring remarks that were made in the Government’s response to the consultation? In particular, they said:

“The government agrees that the TUPE regulations provide important protections for employees, and they provide a strong legal framework for staff transfers”

and went on to say that

“workers’ rights will continue to be protected”.

Earlier in that response, talking specifically about the concerns many trade unions had expressed that this was an incremental move against their rights, the Government stated:

“In response to concerns about the TULRCA, the government would like to reassure respondents that the reforms we are proposing will not affect how”

the Act

“works. Employers will still be prohibited from undermining collective bargaining in breach of Section 145B”

of that Act. Will the Minister simply reassure this Committee that the Government stick by those commitments?

My Lords, I will make two very brief interventions on this. There is not much left to say, following the noble Lords, Lord Hendy and Lord Davies of Brixton, but it is important just to note a couple of things.

First, from these Benches, we contest the assumption of the Government that implementing the 2019 judgment to the CJEU, known as the CCOO case, would be

“disproportionate, particularly while the economy is recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impacts of war in Ukraine”.

I can completely understand the concern about the effect of the pandemic. Having been health spokesperson during the first three years of it, I really understand why that is the case. But I struggle to understand exactly what the effect of the war in Ukraine is on record keeping by employers. I would be grateful if the Minister could give me some guidance on that, because I do not see a logic.

Secondly, the Government keep talking about using artificial intelligence to reduce bureaucracy. Many companies already use such systems. The hand-written timekeeping systems that I used in my youth are long gone. Even the spreadsheets of a decade ago are gone. One now fills in something that feeds straight back into a database that runs the organisation. It takes far more information than just the 15 minutes of work, or whatever it is, on a particular project, and it is then used to assess the progress of the company and the progress of individuals—whether some of that is right or not is another matter, but it is there. It seems to me that a Government who are arguing that we should be focusing on using AI are—by saying, “Actually, we’re assuming there is a massive burden”—not keeping up with what is happening in the workplace at the moment. So can the Minister explain this massive burden, in the light of the way that records are currently kept by most organisations?

Finally on this particular point, I say thank you very much for the three impact assessments; far too many SIs do not have them, and at least we do have the impact assessment here. It sets out:

“Option 0: Do Nothing, i.e. allow continued legal uncertainty about record keeping obligations”.

The answer is, “Well, we don’t want the uncertainty so we’re just going to legislate to remove it”. That seems a rather large jump, so can the Minister can explain exactly why that is justified, particularly in light of the comments I have just made about reducing bureaucracy?

I have an even briefer comment on the TUPE regulations. It was a pleasure to follow the noble Lords, Lord Hendy and Lord Davies. I am not surprised that the trade unions are concerned that this will undermine the role of unions in the workplace. From these Benches, we say that, at times of TUPE, whether there is a small or a large number of people in a firm, that is the exact point at which they need support and advice from people who are not their employer but who understand the roles that are being considered to be TUPE-ed. I wonder whether the Minister might comment on that.

The impact assessment and the Explanatory Memorandum go into some detail in explaining why they will now add large firms proposing to TUPE fewer than 10 employees. Is there any assessment of whether firms might game the system by doing TUPEs in small numbers to be able to avoid having to use this system?

Other than that, I echo the points made by both the noble Lords, Lord Hendy and Lord Davies, on concerns about the reduction of workers’ rights more generally, which I believe we need to be concerned about.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for introducing the regulations, and all noble Lords who contributed to this debate. It is a pleasure to see my noble friend Lord Stansgate and welcome him to the chair.

As we have heard, this instrument does three main things. It reduces requirements under the working time directive, simplifies annual leave and holiday pay calculation and streamlines the regulations that apply when a business transfers to a new owner. This results from the retained EU law Act removing the interpretive effects of EU law on the UK statute book.

As my noble friend Lord Hendy mentioned, during its passage through the House, many of us on these Benches made it absolutely clear that the Act should never be a vehicle for the removal of important existing rights of British citizens. The Government seek to assure us that these changes do not amount to that, and that they simply remove extra bureaucracy. However, in my relatively short time in this place, I have learned to be wary of such assurances. It is said that the devil definitely lies in the detail. However, accurate records leading to accountability surely should not be seen as an evil in itself.

First, I turn to the change to the working time regulations. This represents the greatest risk to workers’ protection. It means that businesses will not have to keep records of their workers’ daily working hours if they can demonstrate compliance without doing so. Will the Minister accept that removing the requirement for accurate record-keeping, tilting the balance of power away from workers to the employer, in fact removes workers’ rights, not unnecessary bureaucracy?

The Explanatory Memorandum says that the instrument will “remove the uncertainty”, without quite explaining what this actually means. The Government argue that the obligations were disproportionate and could damage relationships between employers and workers. Can the Minister expand on how removing clarity could damage this relationship and do anything but actually increase uncertainty? Can he also explain how businesses will demonstrate compliance without records and how a lack of compliance could be evidenced or enforced? Can he expand on the implied relationship between recording working hours and reducing economic activity, or is he prepared to accept that such a correlation does not in fact exist?

Secondly, the instrument provides a simplification of annual leave and holiday pay calculations. In all my years of owning and managing businesses and employing thousands of employees, I have never seen such a complicated system—so much for reducing unnecessary bureaucracy. Can the Minister guarantee that, as a result of this regulation, no workers will lose out on the annual leave and holiday pay to which they are currently entitled?

Finally, I turn to rights under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations —TUPE. My noble friend Lord Davies of Brixton eloquently set out why this change is totally unnecessary. As TUPE transfers currently stand, employers must inform and consult with representatives from a trade union or, if there is none, other employee representatives. Employers can inform and consult directly with employees only if there are fewer than 10 employees in the organisation. This instrument will amend TUPE consultations so that they can take place directly with employees in the absence of existing representation, if either the company has fewer than 50 people or the transfer involves fewer than 10 employees. This clearly represents a reduction in the existing rights of workers in such organisations. Can the Minister confirm whether ACAS has been consulted on these changes? I look forward to his response.

As always, I thank noble Lords for their valuable input in this crucial statutory instrument debate. I also join in the thanks to the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, and welcome him to his position.

I will try to go through the various points raised, beginning with those of the noble Lord, Lord Hendy; by answering some of his questions, I will have a chance to answer others as well. The point about rolled-up holiday pay is important because, if you are an irregular-hours contractor and you work for an employer for a very short period of time, for example, it would be impractical for you to take a fraction of a day’s holiday paid in that way. It is much more reasonable, useful and suitable for the employee to have their holiday pay rolled up into the work they are doing.

This is important, and we consulted on whether we should bring it in for all employees in the UK. We decided that that was very much not the right thing to do, precisely for the reasons raised by the noble Lord: it is essential, in many respects—in order to have a good and functioning workforce—that holiday is taken at the right time and that people have the right level of rest, let alone in relation to the implications for health and safety. As a result, this only applies to part-year and irregular-hours workers. Whether the employees wish to receive their pay in that way is at the discretion of the employer, in consultation with them. From my point of view—I have been an employer—this strikes me as eminently reasonable. It does not necessarily change anything significant; it just clarifies the important point about how that can be rolled up. We also brought in important clarifications between part-year workers’ holiday entitlements and irregular hours workers’ holiday entitlements, which now bring them into line. Again, this is about fairness, which I know that the noble Lord is keen on.

On record-keeping, it is relevant to mention the court case that has been referred to: CCOO v Deutsche Bank—I will use the acronym “CCOO”, rather than try to pronounce the full name. It is important to note that we are not changing anything at all. I am not sure whether noble Lords realise that this was never implemented in the UK, so the point is that we will not implement it in the UK and it is currently not implemented. Tomorrow morning, or whenever the statutory instrument comes into effect, there will be no change in employment systems for any company—no one would see any difference—because we are not implementing this necessity to track every minute of every worker’s day. Instead, employers will have the rights that they have today, so if we are comfortable—which we are—with the obligations that employers have to confirm under the working time directive, we should be very comfortable with where we are.

We believe very firmly that bringing in this necessity would in many instances be unnecessary. This does not relate to making sure that irregular-hour workers, workers in part-time roles or those who work complex shifts, and so on, have worked the right amount of time. In most instances, this is for regular office-hours workers who work roughly nine to five; to have them clocking in and out, and having complex systems monitoring them, is entirely unnecessary. We do not do it now and do not see why we should do it. We think that the cost to industry in this country could be much as £1 billion in terms of new systems and familiarisation.

The noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, mentioned Ukraine. The consultation referred to the fact that in a cost of living crisis, and with other global headwinds and challenges, it would seem unnecessary and wrong to impose burdens on businesses that we are not already imposing on them. There is nothing to lose. It is important to be reassured that employers’ obligations have not been changed. There are no changes as a result of this instrument. It simply ensures that we do not have to conform to unnecessary and restrictive paperwork-oriented activities.

The noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, also raised an important point about the use of AI and technology. I completely agree with her raising those points. I do not think it is in doubt that employers will want to use AI to ensure that they are conforming to their obligations and that their workforces are properly managed, but we should not forget that it is important that we respect small businesses in this country, which may not have the time or capital to invest in such systems. In most of these instances, we think it is unnecessary. I believe that, collectively, we are doing a sensible act in not implementing this judgment, by keeping things as they are and ensuring that workers are protected. Employers have obligations and we are allowing the system to function appropriately.

The third point covered by noble Lords was on TUPE. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Hendy, has been described as the barrister champion of the trade union movement, and it is a title of which he should be proud, but this relates to organisations with fewer than 50 employees—currently, it relates to organisations with fewer than 10 employees—who do not have a representative force in place. While he is indeed the barrister champion of the trade union movement, it may surprise him to know that some companies do not have trade union movements or representative organisations in them. We find ourselves in a bizarre situation where small companies with few employees are obliged to have elections for representative organisations that do not exist. Even in the world of the noble Lord, that would seem bizarre, unnecessary and indeed unkind to small businesses. It does not at any point derogate the rights of employers when it comes to TUPE transfers where there are representative organisations.

The noble Lord, Lord Leong—perhaps it was the noble Baroness, Lady Brinton, or the noble Lord, Lord Davies—rightly raised whether this can be used as a way round, so that large companies transferring small units to other companies could do it piecemeal, say 10 employees at a time. I do not believe that that would be the case. The obligations of an employer under TUPE regulations—the liabilities accruing to them—have not changed in any material way whatever. Tribunals where they could be found at fault would clearly see through such a plan. I am sure noble Lords know that when you buy businesses that are relevant in terms of team transfers to other companies, it simply does not work in that way, so I do not believe there can be an abrogation of rights.

Let me give an example, which I am sure noble Lords will agree is common sense: if you are transferring a small unit of two people, I understand that you are currently obliged to have an election and a representative for two people who are not members of a union and do not have a representative organisation. That does not mean they cannot receive external advice; of course, we would always advise people to receive the advice they need. In this instance, we are clarifying the situation, simplifying it and making it completely reasonable. At no point are we rolling back on any of the workers’ rights that we hold so strongly in this country and which we are committed to, either through trade agreements with Europe or any agreements that we have undertaken.

Genuinely, I have looked very carefully at each aspect of this statutory instrument and think it is a welcome tidying-up of paperwork and bureaucracy, alleviating burdens on businesses while at the same time simplifying the rights of workers and ensuring that the economy can function effectively. I commend this instrument to the Committee.

I wonder whether the Minister would care to say something about the trade and co-operation agreement. If he does not want to, that is for him.

I am always delighted to talk about the trade and co-operation agreement, as it is one of my favoured specialist areas, but I am not sure what the noble Lord wants me to refer to. If he is relating this back to the relationship with the CCOO v Deutsche Bank SAE case, the important point is that we have not brought this into effect as it stands, in any event, so I am not sure what the relevance there is. I cannot really see how his comments on the need to protect workers’ rights in terms of derogation of input production capabilities in relation to our European colleagues are relevant here. These are paperwork changes; they do not negatively change the rights of any workers in the UK.

On the TUPE process, I cannot see why any noble Lord in this Committee would disagree with what is a perfectly rational change in the paperwork processes. As for the other sections that I went through, it is absolutely right that we should clarify how holiday pay and entitlement are calculated for part-year and irregular-hours workers. I would be delighted to have further discussions with the noble Lord to ensure that we have not missed anything, but I am very comfortable, as are the Government, that these are eminently sensible, detail-orientated alterations to processes, which will allow businesses to function better and workers to be protected more clearly. That is the core concept of many of these moves—that workers understand clearly and easily what they are entitled to, rather than necessarily having to refer to complicated legal texts or even the text of Hansard.

Motion agreed.