HC Deb 18 May 2004 vol 421 c899W
Mr. Borrow

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the benefits of the EU Social Chapter for the residents of South Ribble. [172137]

Mr. Sutcliffe

The residents of South Ribble have benefited from the EU Social Chapter by having their employment rights extended to includethe right to Parental Leave which gives parents the right to 13 weeks unpaid leave at the birth or adoption of a child; the entitlement of part-time workers to the same pro-rata terms and conditions of employment as full time workers, thereby removing any discrimination and improving the quality of part-time jobs; the provision that once a prima facie case has been made in an employment tribunal claim, the burden of proof is placed on the defendant (usually the employer), who will need to demonstrate that sex discrimination has not occurred; rights under the Fixed Term Work Directive that provide equal treatment and prevent abuse of fixed term contracts; rights under the European Works Council Directive which requires companies with at least 1,000 employees in total and at least 150 workers in each of the two member states, to establish structures for consulting workers on issues that affect them and; in addition, the Information and Consultation of Employees Directive to be implemented in the UK by March 2005, establishes a right to new minimum standards for work force communication and involvement in large firms.