The conscious uncoupling has begun.
Article 50 has been triggered, Britain is waving a formal farewell to the EU.
So as the two year withdrawal process begins it’s a pertinent time to ask, what does Brexit mean for employment law in the UK?
Here’s what we know thus far . . .
During the bargaining period the UK remains a full EU member.
- That in the here and now there are no changes to UK employment laws derived from EU law, such as TUPE or agency worker protections
- UK employers must comply with new EU laws introduced within the withdrawal period.
- EU nationals continue to have the right to live and work in the UK.
So in the here and now, no change.
Work on how a post Brexit UK employment law landscape will look has begun.
The day after Theresa May triggered Article 50, the UK government gave us the first insight into how a non EU member legislative world might look.
The publication of the “Great Repeal Bill” White Paper outlines the changes to law required to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 – the legislation giving EU law effect within the UK.
The Bill has the following main feature:
- to repeal the European Communities Act;
- to convert any existing EU law into UK law;
- to give parliament powers to create secondary legislation regarding laws that would no longer be appropriate after exiting the EU.
- the Bill will provide that historic Court of Justice of the European Union case law be given the same binding, or precedent, status in UK courts as decisions of the Supreme Court.
Here’s what the White Paper sets out in terms of some of the key areas of employment law.
The Bill specifically states that “workers’ rights that are enjoyed under EU law will continue to be available in UK law after we have left the EU.
The Bill adds that “all the protections covered in the Equality Act 2006, the Equality Act 2010 and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland will continue to apply once the UK has left the EU. This approach will give certainty to service providers and users, as well as employees and employers, creating stability in which the UK can grow and thrive.”
The calculation of holiday pay entitlements are referenced in the Bill “as an example of an area where existing CJEU case law will be applicable after Brexit.”
It states: ”CJEU case law governs the calculation of holiday pay entitlements for UK workers: failure to carry across that case law would be to create uncertainty for workers and employers.”
The White Paper clearly states that it is not the purpose of the Great Repeal Bill to introduce policy changes.
But a degree of uncertainty remains on a number of areas.
Since the Brexit ball started to roll, there has been much discourse as to what happens EU workers in the UK.
The freedom of movement for EU citizens, a central tenet of the EU ideal, will cease to apply in a non-member UK.
Potentially workers from the EU will find themselves subject to the same points-type visa system currently applicable to non-EU workers.
There are other areas, including TUPE and agency workers’ rights – that in light of the assurances around the preservation of workers’ rights – it seems unlikely the UK government will choose to make any significant changes as of yet.
We’ll sign off with a final word from Brexit Minister David Davies.
He said: “The Great Repeal Bill will convert EU law as it applies in the UK into domestic law on the day we leave – so that wherever practical and sensible, the same laws and rules will apply immediately before and immediately after our departure.”
For further advice on how Brexit might shape the policies that will work for your workplace, contact us at HR Team.