EU (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-2019 (Days 1 & 2)

UPDATE : UK Government fact sheets are here.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (EUW Bill – UK law) will repeal the instrument that puts EU law into UK domestic law (the UK European Communities Act 1972) and create a new class of UK domestic law termed ‘retained EU law‘.

Subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists will see this new category appear in their Registers. First, the Brexit Law will be corralled into a single area accessed on the top right (Environment, and Occupational Health & Safety).

The EUW Bill is at the House of Commons Committee stage, an important stage when amendments are considered.

Day 1 of the considerations was yesterday. This considered amendments to Clause 1 and Clause 6 of the Bill.

Day 2 is today. This will consider Clauses 2, 3 and 4 (the EU retained law itself).

Clause 1 repeals the 1972 European Communities Act. No changes were agreed.

Clause 6 addresses the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union (often referred to as the European Court of Justice) after exit day. No changes were agreed.

UPDATE : Clauses 2, 3 and 4. No changes were agreed, Clause 4 was agreed.

Clause 6 (Interpretation of retained EU law) says :

6 Interpretation of retained EU law

A court or tribunal—

(a)  is not bound by any principles laid down, or any decisions made, on or after exit day by the European Court, and

(b) cannot refer any matter to the European Court on or after exit day.

A court or tribunal need not have regard to anything done on or after exit day by the European Court, another EU entity or the EU but may do so if it considers it appropriate to do so.

Any question as to the validity, meaning or effect of any retained EU law is to be decided, so far as that law is unmodified on or after exit day and so far as they are relevant to it –

(a) in accordance with any retained case law and any retained general principles of EU law, and

(b) having regard (among other things) to the limits, immediately before exit day, of EU competences.

But—

(a) Supreme Court is not bound by any retained EU case law,

(b)  the High Court of Justiciary is not bound by any retained EU case law

Etc

CJEU ruling on worker rest periods (EU)

On the 9th November (today), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled on the REQUEST for a preliminary ruling submitted by the Portuguese Tribunal da Relação do Porto (Court of Appeal, Oporto) on whether the minimum uninterrupted weekly rest period of 24 hours to which a worker is entitled (in the European Working Time Directive) must be provided no later than the day following a period of six consecutive working days.

The European Directive on the organisation of working time (Directive 2003/88/EC as amended) provides that every worker is entitled, per each seven-day period, to a minimum uninterrupted rest period of 24 hours plus 11 hours’ daily rest. An earlier Directive 93/104/EC is also relevant, and the request raised the matter of the effect of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which had been dealt with by the earlier June Opinion of the Advocate General. 

By today’s judgment, the Court finds that EU law does not require the minimum uninterrupted weekly rest period to be provided no later than the day following a period of six consecutive working days, but requires it to be provided within each seven-day period. See the list of documents here

The earlier June 2017 Advocate General Opinion had found – Article 5 of Council Directive 93/104/EC of 23 November 1993 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time, Article 5 of Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time and Article 31 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union must be interpreted not as requiring the weekly rest period to be granted at the latest on the seventh day following six consecutive working days, but as requiring such a period to be granted within each seven-day period.

The Opinion is here

CJEU ruling on breastfeeding mothers risk assessment (EU)

On 19th October the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on a REQUEST for a preliminary ruling under European Union treaty law made by the Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Galicia (High Court of Justice of Galicia, Spain).

This REQUEST asked for clarification on the matter of the employer’s risk assessment of breast feeding mothers in the workplace.

The court found :

(1) The European Equal Opportunites & Equal Treatment Directive 2006/54/EC must be interpreted as applying to a situation (such as that at issue in the main Spanish court proceedings), in which a breastfeeding worker challenges, before a court or other competent authority of the Member State concerned, the risk assessment of her work – in so far as she claims that the assessment was not conducted in accordance with Europan Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding.

(2) On a proper construction of European Directive 2006/54 (in a situation such as that at issue in the Spanish court proceedings), it is for the worker in question to provide evidence capable of suggesting that the risk assessment of her work had not been conducted in accordance with the requirements of Article 4(1) of Directive 92/85 and from which it can therefore be presumed that there was direct discrimination on grounds of sex within the meaning of Directive 2006/54 (in the case). It would then be for the defendant to prove that that risk assessment had been conducted in accordance with the requirements of that provision (risk assessment of breast feeding mothers) and that there had, therefore, been no breach of the principle of non-discrimination.

The CJEU judgment is here

The UK HSE guidance is as yet unchanged. The UK HSE guidance states a specific risk assessment is not required when an employer is notified a worker is a new or expectant mother. This guidance is here.

NB: ACAS is finalising new guidance on preventing pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work. UPDATE : this guidance is here.

The Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation UK websystems contain Law, ACOPs, HSGs and some other health and safety relevant guidance. They do not contain ACAS documents, please refer to legal specialists in Employment Law for further guidance.

Workplace Transport Fatality Fine

A waste recycling company is ordered to pay £250,000 in fines and £53,100 in costs for serious workplace transport safety failings that led to the death of a young worker.

Here is the press release of Britain’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE). The company pleaded guilty to breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

It seems the 21yr old worker (working at the site for 6 months only) had been directed to clean mud off sensors on the weighbridge and, as he had not done the job before, he would work alongside a more experienced worker who would also look out for traffic. However after taking a break, he returned to work alone. A skip lorry then drove onto the weighbridge where the young worker was lying prone and chipping away at the hard mud. He picked up his tools and moved out of the way. The driver briefly got out of his cab and went into the site office, returned and drove on, unaware the young worker had returned to his work on the weighbridge. The lorry hit the young worker, and he died at the scene. The young worker had been in a total blind spot to the driver when he decided to return to his work.

Per the HSE investigation, the company had failed to:
* appreciate the risks associated with the site
* give full instructions, guidance and training to staff
* monitor and supervise staff, particularly the young worker
* devise a transport policy to segregate people from vehicles, and
* provide a system of proper maintenance for equipment like the weighbridge
* prepare a health and safety plan

Unsafe Work Method Fine

Serious crushing injuries caused by unsafe cleaning methods results in company fine.

Here is the press release issued by Britain’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

HSE found there was no formal safe system of work for a cleaning task. The injured worker was cleaning an excavator that had been returned covered in dirt. The work needed to be done quickly because the vehicle was due to be hired out again later the same day. The court was told it was unsafe to work either beneath or immediately adjacent to an excavator when it is supported only by the bucket on the excavator arm and the shovel blade, and that had the work been better planned and managed then the incident could have been avoided.

Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

European OSHA Health & Safety Report

New Report from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) helps to explain why the European Framework Directive 89/391/EEC, which aims to provide a common level of protection to workers in all Member States, is put into practice in different ways across the EU.

The full report is here.

The EU-OSHA press release is here.