Clients are asking us what a Brexit vote will mean for UK employment laws. We’ve taken a look at some of the key laws to see what might change.
The withdrawal will not, by itself, repeal UK employment laws or immigration rules wholesale. Parliament would have to repeal or replace legislation and that will take time. The truth is no-one really knows yet what will happen but the following could be impacted—albeit not immediately.
Various decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) relating to the operation of annual leave have proved both unpopular with UK business and confusing. The right for holiday to continue to accrue during peri- ods of sick leave is one example. Another is a series of recent decisions of the CJEU which decided that holiday pay should be calculated based on all aspects of remuneration (e.g. commission and certain forms of overtime payments) not just basic pay. As well as increasing the cost of providing paid holiday to workers, the decisions have also left a number of important questions unanswered, such as how holiday pay should be calculated in practice. This could provide the UK gov- ernment with the opportunity to clarify and soften this area of employment regula- tion for employers.
Atypical Workers’ Rights
EU-driven protection for agency, part-time, fixed-term and posted workers has been introduced in the UK. Those businesses using or supplying contingency workers may gain more freedom following our withdrawal from the EU.
Many UK anti-discrimination provisions predate EU obligations – sex, race, disability and protection beyond employment into goods and services, all existed before the UK became a member state. A more likely change could be to place limits or caps on discrimination compensation awards.
There is political pressure on the government to cut EU migration. Pending our negotiation of the withdrawal treaty, no immediate changes arise. EU nationals will continue to be able to move freely, work and live in member states, including the UK. But the situation remains uncertain. In the longer term, if EU citizens here are no longer part of a free movement arrangement, new immigration rules will be required to regularise the position.
While we wait to see what happens, it is worth employers assessing how many employees in their workforce might be affected. This can be done easily by cross- referencing existing records kept through the ‘right to work’ provisions. The majority may be subject to additional control in future.