THE Tory Government is looking at ripping up worker protections enshrined in EU law as ministers plan to change labour markets after Brexit.

The business department, with approval from Downing Street, is planning deregulatory measures including an end to the 48-hour working week and tweaks to breaks and overtime rules.

According to the Financial Times, the Government wants to stop the 48-hour limit, not include overtime pay when calculating holiday pay entitlements and no longer require businesses to report working hours in a move which could save around £1 billion.

READ MORE: Brexit deal puts workers' rights on the line, union leaders warn

Ministers said they had no intention of “lowering” workers’ rights, with the business department adding: “The UK has one of the best workers’ rights records in the world.

“Leaving the EU allows us to continue to be a standard setter and protect and enhance UK workers’ rights.”

The SNP has said the proposed changes prove independence is the only way to protect workers in Scotland.

The party’s shadow business secretary Drew Hendry said Westminster “cannot be trusted”, adding an independent Scotland with full powers over employment and equality law would be able to look out for workers more effectively.

The National:

Hendry, the MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, said: "Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process. It is a disgrace that we are being forced to pay such a devastating price as the Tories rip up our rights and inflict long-term damage to our economy.

"Millions of workers depend on the protections that are enshrined in EU law. Westminster cannot be trusted to protect and advance them - as the Tory assault on workers' rights begins with a race to the bottom on deregulation.”

READ MORE: Boris Johnson's EU trade deal risks erosion of workers' rights, think tank warns

The MP added it “beggars belief” that Labour worked “hand-in-hand” with Boris Johnson’s party to impose the hard Brexit deal “and block the devolution of employment law”.

"People in Scotland have the right to determine our own future. We can reject Boris Johnson's Brexit and guarantee workers' rights with independence.”

Meanwhile, Labour’s shadow business secretary Ed Miliband accused the Tories of “taking a sledgehammer to workers’ rights”.

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He called the changes, planned during the pandemic when many are fearful about their job security, a “disgrace”.

“In the midst of the worst economic crisis in three centuries, ministers are preparing to tear up their promises to the British people,” he commented.

Warren Kenny, acting general secretary of GMB, said the Government had promised to protect, not weaken, workers' rights.

He said: “If this leak is anything to go by the Government is not only tearing up its election promises but worse still taking a sledgehammer to workers’ rights while workers are facing down a pandemic in the middle of the worst economic crisis in all of our lifetimes.

"This would be unforgiveable.” 

“GMB won’t stand by if the Government forces workers to work longer hours and lose paid holiday."

He added: “Our workers across the UK deserve better.” 

The head of the free market Adam Smith Institute, Matt Kilcoyne, welcomed the changes to employment law. He said the current 48-hour rule is a “straitjacket on the economy”.

There are now fears that the planned overhaul of workers’ rights could prompt trouble from Brussels. Under the current Brexit trade deal terms the EU could take retaliation over the differing of standards but only if the bloc could prove changes have an impact on competition.

Brussels has long seen labour standards as a key issue for the “level playing field” which the Brexit deal is supposed to uphold.