Brexit – A View from the Coalface

01 Jul 2016

The sky’s not fallen and in the short term Brexit makes no difference to UK employment law. Our law may have been driven by EU Directives but these have been implemented through legislation and regulations which remain in force until repealed. In the medium term;

The Working Time Regulations: the bête noir of so many but are we really going to overthrow something designed to protect the health, safety and well being of every worker? The 48 hour maximum average working week might go as it seems more honoured in the breach than the observance and I’d like to think Parliament will legislate on holiday pay – but it’s steadfastly refused to do so for more than 10 years so I’m not holding my breath.

The Agency Workers Regulations: nobody seems to like these and I reckon they’ll be repealed quickly.

Discrimination: it’s worth remembering that the UK led the way in equality by outlawing race, gender and disability discrimination before they were even a glimmer in the European Commission’s eyes. I don’t foresee any change other than  the imposition of a cap on compensation. That’ll be an irresistible target for a Parliament intent on expanding rights without providing effective remedies.

Maternity/Paternity Rights: the arrangements we’ve developed have only a nodding acquaintance with EU rights and I see no need for any change on account of Brexit.

Redundancy: our redundancy rules are considerably more employer-friendly than those in many EU States and are unlikely to change. However the collective redundancy rules derive from an EU Directive and may be a target for modification. There could be reductions in Protective Awards and changes to the trigger for collective consultation.

TUPE: there’ll be a lot of harrumphing from the private equity sector and TUPE might go if the Labour Party doesn’t resolve it’s internecine strife before our exit. However I think it more likely there’ll only be some tinkering round the edges (perhaps to permit post-transfer harmonisation of terms of employment) because TUPE is essential to privatisation/outsourcing in the public and private sectors and it seems unlikely that trend will change significantly in the foreseeable future.

Unfair Dismissal: there’s no reason for current law and practice to change.

Immigration: your guess is as good as mine.

Of course much will depend on the way in which the politics of Brexit plays out but it seems to me that in the short and medium terms our legislators agenda is full to overflowing with more important issues than the minutiae of domestic employment law.