A vote to leave the EU would make it easier for employers to impose pay cuts and worse conditions on workers in companies that are sold to a new owner, or services that are contracted out, the TUC has suggested.
It highlights Government figures that show that over 900,000 workers each year are affected by such transfers, and protected by the EU-derived Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations — known as TUPE.
This particularly applies in two areas, cleaning and domestic services, where TUC analysis of labour market data has shown that 74% of the 612,000 low-paid people in cleaning and domestic work are women.
Furthermore, of the 480,000 people working in the kitchen and catering assistants sector, nearly two-thirds (63%) are women and the majority of women working in each sector are part-time workers.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: "If you’ve ever worked for a company that’s been taken over, or a service that’s been contracted out, you will know how worrying it can be to get transferred to a new boss. But thankfully there are EU rules that stop the new boss cutting your pay and conditions overnight."
But, she went on, if the UK votes to leave the EU, then those guarantees are gone.
With jobs such as cleaners and caterers being amongst those most likely to be contracted out, this means that it will be low-paid women workers who are especially at risk.
"Lots of employers are itching to persuade politicians to scrap these protections — and if we leave the EU they’d have the chance they’ve been waiting for," Ms O'Grady concluded.
A TUC guide to the risks outsourced workers face from Brexit can be found on the TUC website.