On 23 June 2016, the UK voted in favour of Brexit. A vote to leave the European Union (“EU”). This brief note considers the impact of Brexit on employment law and employment rights for workers in the UK.
As most people will be aware, employment law is one of those areas of law that has been significantly influenced and shaped by the EU. The UK’s membership with the EU resulted in a number of well known rights being afforded to UK workers. These rights included the right not to be discriminated against. It also gave workers an entitlement to family-friendly rights including maternity leave. It set strict regulations regarding working time. It set strict regulations on business transfers and imposed a duty on employers to collectively consult with their employees. These are among some of the rights that came out of our membership with the EU. The link between employment law and the EU can therefore not be downplayed.
That said, however, the UK itself has also implemented key employment rights without EU intervention. These rights have included the right not to be unfairly dismissed. It has also included the right to receive national minimum wage. In addition there are instances in which the UK has provided for rights in excess of the the rights bench-marked by the EU. For example the right to paid holidays. The EU granted workers a holiday entitlement of 4 weeks a year. Whereas the UK gave workers a holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks a year, in excess of the entitlement set by the EU.
Although it is too hard to predict the extent of any impact that Brexit will have on employment law and employment rights. Most people would probably agree that it will inevitably have some kind of impact upon the law as we know it.
In the short-term there is unlikely to be any significant changes to employment law. This is because any changes at the moment will only cause more chaos to the current uncertain climate that the UK finds itself in. Any changes now are likely to cause unnecessary strain on businesses.
In the long-term, if the UK’s focus was on strengthening the resolve of businesses, then the government may take decisions to promote the interest of employers over that of employees. Some unpopular EU regulations such as those relating to business transfers and the right for sick employees to accrue their holiday entitlement whilst of sick, may be the first to be changed. However, no one really knows one way or another, what, if anything, will change.
What is clear is that we will just have to wait and see what Brexit will mean for the UK and employment law. For the time being, it is business as usual.
If you require any employment related advice, please feel free to contact us on 01924 387110.