How will employment law be affected in the wake of Brexit?
After months of intense campaigning, Britain voted in favour of leaving the EU yet many questions still remain as to how the country will change in the coming years.
In our latest article, the expert employment solicitors at LawforEmployers take a look what effect Brexit could have on UK employment law.
No sweeping changes to employment law expected
Given that it is anticipated that the process of extricating ourselves from the EU and negotiating new trading agreements is going to take at least 2 years, then the short answer to that question is that nothing much is going to happen in the near future.
In fact in the years post Brexit we may well still be bound by some European employment laws, depending on the kind of trade agreements we are able to negotiate with the 27 member organisation.
It is unlikely that those countries would allow us to be in a position whereby we could undercut their business terms as a result of us being able to employ our workers on cheaper terms. So in all probability, we would still have to sign up to some laws which have originated in the EU, such as the Working Time Regulations.
Future trade agreements aside, it should be remembered that all EU Directives have been implemented into binding UK regulations. Therefore regulations such as TUPE cannot simply be disregarded on leaving the EU, they would have to be repealed by Parliament and it is extremely unlikely that all primary EU derived employment legislation will be repealed.
A more practical reality is a piecemeal revision of existing legislation to address specific business and government concerns. Consequently, it is envisaged that in the medium to long term the changes, which are most likely to take place, are in the following areas of employment law.
TUPE Regulations are EU derived employment law. Their scope was extended by the UK Government in 2006, by the wholly domestic concept of “service provision change” to contracting out.
Consequently, it is unlikely we will see their wholesale repeal. More probable are changes through amendments to simplify the process for employers. Including, the relaxation of rules on providing information and consultation to affected employees before a TUPE transfer.
A major frustration for many employers when acquiring employees upon a TUPE transfer, has been their inability to harmonise their employee’s terms and conditions of employment. We would expect the rules preventing changes to contracts of employment post transfer to be altered after leaving the EU.
Working Time Regulations
Whilst most of the Working Time Regulations will remain, some of the provisions contained in the regulations have proved universally unpopular with employers.
One particular regulation which has proved very unpopular with employers, and is therefore often ignored, is the maximum average 48 hour working week. It is likely that this will eventually be abolished in a post Brexit Britain.
Annual holiday pay
There has been long running uncertainty surrounding the payment of holiday pay and it is likely there will be changes to the current rules for its payment.
Whilst paid holiday will remain since we gold-plated the entitlement under EU law to 4 weeks holiday pay by increasing that entitlement to 5.6 weeks paid holiday through UK legislation, there will no doubt be legislation passed to reverse some of the holiday pay cases that have arisen recently. In particular, an employee’s right to accrue holiday pay during periods of long term sickness absence.
Also under review will be the decision that holiday pay should be made up of a proportion of all aspects of annual remuneration. This includes a proportion of commission and certain forms of overtime payments; not just basic pay. The subsequent increase in the cost of providing paid holiday to employees and uncertainty on the important question as to how holiday pay should be calculated in practice has meant there is an anticipation of changes.
Employee redundancy consultation
Currently, a proposal by an employer to make 20 or more employees redundant triggers an employer’s additional responsibilities to embark upon collective consultation with its employees.
Obligations include having to facilitate the election of employee representatives with whom it has to consult and an extended timeframe for completing the redundancy process, which have proved very unpopular with employers.
It is therefore anticipated there will be a watering down of collective consultation laws, for example increasing the threshold for the requirement for collective employee redundancy consultation to a 100 plus employees.
Agency Workers Regulations
The regulations implement the EU Temporary Agency Workers Directive, which requires employers to offer agency workers who have worked for them for 12 weeks equal terms and benefits as those received by their existing employees.
Again these regulations have been very unpopular with employers not least due to compliance costs and because of this they will probably be repealed.
Keep your business complaint with our SafeGuard packages
Although it is unlikely there will be wholesale changes around workplace law, it is vital for employers to stay up to date with changing regulations.
At LawforEmployers, we offer a range of SafeGuard employment law packages designed to keep your business up to date and compliant.
You can receive regular updates on employment law and the continuing support of an experienced employment law solicitor in Lancashire.
To find out how SafeGuard can protect your business, call us on 01282 695 400.
Or, book your free consultation today by complete our quick online contact form.