11 October 2022
The Ramifications of Brexit on UK Employment Law
Ever since the UK’s exit from the European Union there has been considerable speculation over what this could mean for Employment Law within the UK going forward. The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022 was introduced on 22 September by Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Jacob Rees-Mogg. The full scope of the ramifications of this bill is currently unknown, but there is fear among many that it may affect matters such as the right to holiday pay, TUPE transfers, and some aspects of discrimination.
One area which appears set for change is the Working Time Regulations. Liz Truss and her cabinet are set to review the 48-hour working week among other legal protections. In a recent statement Truss declared, “EU regulations hinder our businesses and this has to change”. This is indicative of a potential overhaul of employment rights as part of the PM’s bid to “make the UK more competitive”.
However this has caused mass concern among unions who fear future changes will pose real threats to employees. One example of this is the Government’s plan to exempt tens of thousands of employers from certain reporting obligations, as announced by the Prime Minister at the Conservative Party Conference held in Birmingham earlier this month. Currently businesses with fewer than 250 employees are exempt from reporting requirements such as gender pay gap reporting and executive pay reporting, but Truss has now declared the expansion of this threshold to any businesses with fewer than 500 employees, as well as announcing the possibility of extending this threshold to 1,000 employees in the future. This has led to outrage from unions who claim that these changes will “turn the clock back for women at work”.
In some areas of Employment Law the UK has previously gone beyond what is required of them under the EU requirements. For example the UK has extended paid annual leave entitlement beyond the 4 week EU minimum to 5.6 weeks. But with their impending flexibility the UK will soon be able to adjust these entitlements as it wishes, with no minimum requirement burden placed upon them by the EU.
At this point it remains unclear as to the extent of the implications of Brexit upon UK Employment Law, but with the completion date for the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022 set at 31 December 2023 the Government’s plans hereafter are likely to be announced in due course.