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Sophie Cameron

Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

New inquiry to examine how human rights are protected at work

New inquiry to examine how human rights are protected at work


Joint Committee on Human Rights launches inquiry

The UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights announced on 10 February the launch of a new inquiry that will assess the extent to which human rights are protected and respected in the workplace.  

The new inquiry aims to review how the protections guaranteed by the relevant UK statutory rights, international human rights instruments and the European Convention on Human Rights, which is incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998, apply to the world of work and the rights of workers, in light of the recognition that the workplace can involve an imbalance of power between employers and workers, which can lead to harmful practices and human rights violations, such as exploitation and discrimination.

The Joint Committee has published a set of questions, seeking responses from interested stakeholders, on the following areas of inquiry: the freedom of association and the right to strike; the right to privacy and surveillance at work; freedom of thought, conscience and religion and freedom of expression in the workplace; labour market exploitation; retained EU Law and workers’ rights; and international human rights treaties.

The call for evidence explains that this inquiry is separate to the Joint Committee’s ongoing legislative scrutiny of the Strike (Minimum Service Levels) Bill 2022-2023.

In the area of privacy and surveillance in the workplace, the Joint Committee is looking to gather evidence, amongst other things, on: what forms of surveillance, which are being used to monitor workers, raise concerns under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and whether the current legal framework adequately protects workers’ Article 8 right to private and family life.

Chair of the Joint Committee, Joanna Cherry KC MP, commented, “Employment often has an inherent power imbalance that can leave workers vulnerable to exploitation or discrimination. There is an obligation on the Government to ensure that there is a comprehensive framework in place that ensure the rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights are protected at work. The Joint Committee on Human Rights has launched this inquiry to understand how rights are currently protected at work and pinpoint where greater safeguards may be needed.”

The submission period for contributions to this new inquiry closes on 24 March 2023.