Britain has voted for Brexit.
The British people have made their voices heard and decided to leave the EU. However, we are largely uncertain about how the decision to leave the EU will impact on our day-to-day lives. So far we can only speculate as to the potential impact of many aspects of Brexit, and one particular area of concern is the effect the decision will have on UK employment law.
Many of our laws relating to employment stem from the requirements of EU directives. Furthermore, the UK courts and legislature have, in many cases, embedded EU law into our own system – often going above and beyond both the requirements and expectations of Brussels. It is understandable, therefore, that there are questions and uncertainty about what will happen to the UK’s employment law once we have formally left the EU.
Whilst speculation is all we have at such an early stage, many of the changes feared are so unlikely to take place in practice that they should not cause us any serious concern.
Technically, Britain can go back on the employment laws passed down from the EU and put in place its own versions of the same laws, changing them to fit the nation’s needs in the process. This is, however, unlikely to happen in many cases. Indeed, Britain has already made many of these laws such an entrenched part of UK law that to change them now seems likely to cause more issues than it would solve.
Moreover, many of the laws passed down from the EU and adhered to under British law are accepted, and even desired, by the majority of people in Britain. To take away laws that protect equality in the workplace and statutory paid holiday, as well as working time regulations, would simply not sit right. Britain is unlikely, therefore, to consider stripping its workers of these rights in favour of other laws following Brexit. To do so would surely create more issues for the British government than solutions to any perceived problems with the laws in question. It seems safe to say then, that these particular laws are unlikely to alter following Brexit.
What the UK government may look to achieve in light of Brexit, however, is a series of laws that are less burdensome on employers. For example, under EU law, agency workers are given the same rights as employees after 12 weeks of being engaged. This has already proven to be unpopular amongst employers and, due to the fact that the law was only brought into place in Britain in 2010, it has not become so embedded as to be difficult to repeal. This area of law, therefore, may well be addressed once Britain finalises negotiations to leave the EU.
Similarly, while basic rights to paid holiday leave are considered by many to be desirable, employers have felt unduly burdened by recent European decisions on how this holiday pay is to be calculated (for more information please refer to the decision in Lock -v- British Gas). Employers are now expected to take into account all aspects of pay – for example, commission and bonuses – and not simply an employee’s basic pay. Again, this has proven unpopular with employers, and is only a recent development, and so it is ripe for re-evaluation following Brexit.
Of course, we will have to wait to see how Britain handles its departure from the EU, and also what agreements and trade deals can be made, before we can be sure of what impact Brexit may have on our domestic employment laws.
In the meantime, however, it is business as usual, and if you have any employment queries then please do not hesitate to call Jack Khurana at BHW Solicitors on 0116 289 7000.