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How could Brexit affect UK employment law?

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With the vote on whether the UK should remain in or exit the European Union drawing ever closer, employers are questioning what affect â??Brexitâ? may have on employment law in the UK.

Although, the impact of the EU on UK employment is often over-stated, some changes could be made in the event of a leave vote.

Here at LawforEmployers, our experienced employment law solicitors take a look at how a leave vote may change the landscape of UK employment law.

What impact has the EU had on UK employment law?

In the individual employment relationship, guidance from the EU has been limited to basic rights including freedom from discrimination and the right to a minimum period of paid holiday.

Where the EU has had its greatest impact is dealing with rights on a collective level. This includes protecting employeesâ?? rights on the transfer of a business and the requirement for employers to consult collectively over large scale redundancies.

How might a Brexit vote change UK employment law?

A vote to leave the EU would be unlikely to signal immediate sweeping changes to employment law policy in the UK. Withdrawal from the EU is likely to take a couple of years and in any event we may be required to retain EU employment law as part of a new deal struck with the EU following a Brexit vote.

Consequently, it is likely the UK employment law regime will be left largely as it is, although there may be changes afoot for aspects of existing regulations which are particularly unpopular with British employers.

  • The Agency Workers Regulations

The regulations give agency workers who have completed 12 weeks in the same job the entitlement to the same basic employment and working conditions, as if they had been recruited directly. Therefore, there may be a move, depending on the government of the day, to abolish the requirement for agency workers to receive comparable pay after the 12 week period.

  • Unlimited compensation for discrimination

Compensation for breach of employment law rights has traditionally been capped in the UK, however the cap on discrimination compensation was removed following the intervention of EU law. If the UK was to leave the EU, steps could be taken to re-introduce a cap on compensation for discrimination.

  • Holiday pay

Employers are obliged to provide paid holiday to employees under the Working Time Directive, which came into force in the UK in 1998. However, limiting the amount paid to an employee to their basic pay has recently been ruled out as a consequence of EU law.

Whilst there is no suggestion of the removal of the universal entitlement to paid holiday, it may be changes are made to limit holiday pay to basic pay if the UK was to leave the EU.

  • Annual leave carry over

Under current EU law employees on sick leave have a right to carry over untaken annual leave into subsequent holiday years. Given the right has proved unpopular with employers, it may be that businesses will be lobbying for its removal.

  • TUPE

Another issue which employers have found to be an irritant and one which they would hope to change is their inability to harmonise employeesâ?? terms and conditions following a transfer of a business or change in a service provider.

Making sweeping changes following an EU exit would create significant uncertainty, it is therefore more likely that the UK Government would maintain the status quo at the beginning and address laws individually over time.

Prepare for any employment changes with our SafeGuard packages

The area of employment is a dynamic sector of the law and it can be difficult for employers to keep abreast of the latest changes, whether brought about by the introduction of new regulations or through case law.

At LawforEmployers, we offer a range of SafeGuard employment packages designed to keep your business up to date and compliant.

By taking out one of our affordable SafeGuard packages, you can receive the continuing support of an expert employment law solicitor and regular updates on significant changes in employment law. You can find out more about our SafeGuard employment insurance packages here.

To find out how our SafeGuard packages can benefit your business, call us on 01282 695 400.

Or, book your free consultation by completing our simple online contact form.