Employment Law and Brexit: Everything You Need to Know

By Amanda Beattie
28 Nov 2018

Brexit remains a major talking point in business. Perhaps more so than in politics. Why is this the case? Unsurprisingly, it's because business owners want to know the effects it'll have on their organisations. 

And one of the main talking points is the impact leaving the EU could have on employment law in the UK.

To help clarify this issue, in this guide we explain the likely outcomes that are ahead for the British economy. 

The implications of Brexit

First, what's employment law?  It exists mainly to protect employees from mistreatment from their employers and colleagues. Some key employment law focuses on discrimination, overtime working, minimum wage entitlement, family leave, gender pay, data protection, and industrial action.

The UK is currently committed to following both UK and EU legislation on employment, which is why there's debate (but also confusion) about the impact of Brexit on employment law. For example, TUPE regulations are the UK’s implementation of the EU’s Transfer of Undertakings Directive.

But, will leaving the EU have a significant impact on these laws? Will everything change once we leave the EU?

The impact on employment law

Fortunately, employers can rest easy, as most the of the EU laws relating to employment will become UK law. Rights around working time, data protection, maternity rights, TUPE, and industrial action, in particular, will go unchanged.

Just because the implications of Brexit on employment law seem minor, it doesn’t mean there is nothing to do.

A recent development suggested a no deal might force employers to make a series of rigorous check regarding whether EU workers came to work in Britain before or after the Brexit deadline.

Fortunately, it’s now confirmed that regardless of whether the UK gets a deal or not, employers will not have to conduct rigorous checks to determine whether EU workers came to the UK before or after Brexit, but they will still have to conduct right to work checks on EU citizens.

It's confirmed free movement will continue as normal throughout the transition period. However, this only applies if paraliament reaches, and approves, a deal. 

The current period we're expecting is two years in length. This means the period will end on 29 March 2021.

The transition period could also receive an extension. If so, it'll mean free movement could continue for longer.

The future

The government has assured employers little will change upon the UK’s exit from the EU. This doesn’t mean there'll be no change 

Once the UK has left, employers will no longer be bound by future EU laws, and future governments could decide to reform certain legislation. Changes to employment law for employers to look out for are:

  • Agency work.
  • TUPE.
  • Compensations limit for discrimination.

It isn’t certain any of these areas will receive changes, but it's worth remaining vigilant. This will ensure you're ready for Brexit and can avoid any issues with non-compliance.

Controlling growing discrimination

Brexit has revealed certain tensions across the country. As a result of heated debate, there's a higher risk of discrimination.

As the final deadline draws near, the debate will only grow fiercer and the chance of discrimination increases.

To combat any issues, review your discrimination, harassment and bullying policies.

You can also remind staff you have a zero-tolerance policy on discrimination in all forms. 

Other important information

The EU Settlement Scheme allows current EU citizens and their families to apply for settled status in the UK.

Certain individuals are eligible to apply for this status now, but the majority won’t be able to apply until 30 March 2019.

Your recruitment strategy will also be of vital importance in the next couple of years. The number of EU nationals coming to the UK has been decreasing for some time. This seems to be a growing trend—some businesses are already feeling the pinch.

Going forward, good business practice is to find out what your employee needs are. You can then create policies to accommodate your strategy around these requirements.

Expert Support

For employment law advice on Brexit, speak to a Croner expert on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Amanda Beattie

Amanda represents corporate clients and large public bodies, including complex discrimination and whistleblowing claims. Amanda also drafts and delivers bespoke training regarding all aspects of employment law, including ‘mock tribunal’ events; in addition she also frequently drafts employment law articles for various publications for Croner and their clients.

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