Leaving the EU – what this means for employers and workers

The UK left the EU at 11pm on Saturday 31 January. The implementation period is until 31st December. During this time the Government will negotiate with the EU. But what does this mean for employers and workers? Employers can still hire EU workers because they continue to have the right to work here; EU nationals have until June 2021 to apply for settled status.

Much of our employment law comes from the EU: working time, holiday pay, maternity rights, discrimination. Under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 these rights are saved as “retained EU law”. But will they stay in place after 31 December? There are three options; existing rights will be maintained, amended, or reduced.

In the December 2019 Queen’s Speech, the Government announced it will include clauses on the protection and enhancement of workers’ rights in the Employment Bill – but it’s not clear when this will be introduced. The UK can’t legislate to reduce rights until after the implementation period. But the Employment Bill will need to be passed before it ends in order to protect the rights.

It’s likely that protection will continue as EU trade deals stipulate a level playing field: this avoids trading partners gaining economic advantage by reducing workers’ right. Furthermore the non-binding Political Declaration states there will be a level playing field clause to maintain “employment standards at the current high levels”

Contact us for advice on these issues – we will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

This information does not provide a full statement of the law and you are advised to take legal advice before taking any action based on the information contained in this article.

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