What Brexit Means for Employment Law

Some time has now passed since we all woke up one Friday morning to find out that we will soon no longer be Europeans! A lot of issues were discussed in the run up to the referendum, but not much was made of what, if any impact a Brexit vote will have on our employment legislation, and therefore workers’ rights.

A large swath of UK employment law derives from legislation laid down by the EU. However, it has then been enshrined into Acts of Parliament in the UK and therefore the legislation would have to be repealed by Parliament rather than it just falling by the wayside once Brexit happens.

Matters currently protected as a result of our EU membership include, agency worker regulations, transfer of undertakings (TUPE), discrimination rights, annual leave, rest breaks and generally working hours.

It would be surprising if any Government were to unilaterally look to abolish such rights, however you may see in time some degree of watering down of them.

For example, the Working Time Regulations 1998 give specific rights to a minimum number of days for annual leave, details of rest breaks and maximum working hours, whether the figures attributed to these sections of the Regulations change over time will be interesting to see.

However, you cannot imagine protections such as equality and diversity, all brought together under the Equality Act being matters that any Prime Minister would move to abolish.

Back in 2014 the UK Government objected to there being a cap on bonuses in the financial sector, but the cap went ahead anyway within EU legislation, it will be interesting to see whether that cap is lifted once the UK leaves.

What will be of extra interest is what the UK Courts and Tribunals will do with European Court of Justice (ECJ) decisions. Obviously, once Brexit is enforced, it would not be likely that any decisions are still passed to the ECJ (although as part of any negotiated exit and attempts to remain part of the European Economic Area it may be the UK has to agree to maintain such authority), but the question is will the decisions made by the ECJ which currently direct our interpretation of legislation then be followed or ignored.

Recently we have seen ECJ decisions have an impact in how holiday pay is paid, and at what rate, and in respect of what constitutes working hours, will Judge’s still be bound by those decisions or simply establish new law with the Supreme Court (once the House of Lords) again being the final arbiter.

Employment lawyers such as myself will be watching the situation closely to see how the wind is turning. As I said, I would not expect mass changes to legislation, more likely we will maybe see the odd watering down of Acts of Parliament and interpretation of legislation slowly turning the tide towards a UK based opinion.

Interesting times ahead and certainly a look back to now, 5 years post Brexit will be a good study in what has actually changed as a result of the vote on 23rd June 2016.

To arrange a discussion about a new or existing Will, please get in touch with David Brown on 033 0002 0070 or info@planetemployment.co.uk

Planet Employment offer businesses specialist employment law services which deal with the procedural needs of managing staff and provides sound commercial advice which will deliver what the employer wants to achieve, rather than just a commentary on the legislation.

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