The TUC has urged the UK Government to “come clean” over its plans for workers’ rights after news emerged of delays to an Employment Bill.

The trade union organisation reacted with fury to reports that ministers are going to drop the long-awaited Bill from next month’s Queen’s Speech.

The TUC said it will be the second year in succession that legislation to boost workers’ rights has been put back.

Writing to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “If the Government ditches the Employment Bill it will be sending a green light to rogue employers to treat staff like disposable labour.

“After the scandalous events at P&O, which have exposed gaping holes in UK employment law, the need for new legislation has never been clearer or more urgent.

“There is no excuse for delay. If the Government breaks its promise to enhance workers’ rights, working people will have been conned and betrayed.

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“It’s vital ministers come clean about their plans. In the wake of P&O, the Government can stand on the side of workers and legislate new protections, or it can side with bad bosses and abandon its long overdue Employment Bill.

“Without new laws to protect people at work there is nothing stopping P&O-type scandals from happening again in the future, and the use of exploitative practices like fire and rehire and zero-hours contracts will continue to soar.

“Tinkering around the edges with feeble statutory codes is not going to rein in unscrupulous employers. We need proper legislation for that.”

The TUC said the UK Government has given repeated assurances that it will legislate for new workplace protections.

GMB union general secretary Gary Smith said: “To drop the Employment Bill after the disgraceful P&O sackings and widespread use of revolting fire-and-rehire tactics says everything about this Government’s attitude to working people.

“Employment rights in our country need to be stronger, and it is simply not good enough for the Government to keep on failing in this key area.

“In the face of spiralling energy bills, rampant inflation, and a cost-of-living crisis, working people should be able to stand up for their rights at work and organise for better pay.

“Our country deserves better.”

Powers over employment and industrial relations are not devolved to the Senedd. An online petition calling on the Welsh Government to push for these powers was set up last year, but was rejected on the grounds that it "[asked] the Senedd to do something that it is not able to do."

The petition asked "for the Senedd to push for employment law and rights to become a devolved matter, to alleviate people in Wales from poverty, ban the use of practices such as fire and rehire and the overuse of apprenticeships, and legislate a living wage for Welsh workers."

The rejection read: "We cannot accept petitions which call for the Senedd to request or campaign for something which falls outside of its direct powers or responsibilities.

"Employment law remains the responsibility of the UK Parliament and as a result, it is not possible for the Senedd to take the action called for by your petition."

A UK Government spokesman said: “We are committed to building a high-skilled, high-productivity, high-wage economy that delivers on our ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to work.

“This includes ensuring workers’ rights are robustly protected while also fostering a dynamic and flexible labour market.”

Additional reporting: Rebecca Wilks

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