Chamber HR - Brexit and Employment Law

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Like many aspects of economic and social life in the UK at the present time, there is a high degree of uncertainty surrounding the medium and long term picture of our employment law framework. However, in the short term at least, the situation is clear in that the range of legal rights and obligations that are in place remain unchanged in the aftermath of the UK's referendum vote to leave the European Union.

As long as the UK remains a member of the EU, EU law still applies to employers and employees alike and the principle of the free movement of labour also remains in place. Many questions will however need to be answered once the formal process to facilitate the UK’S ultimate “Brexit” from the European Union is concluded.

These will include:

  • Will workers from the UK who are currently living and working in other member states be able to remain there?
  • Will workers from other EU member states who are currently living and working in the UK be able to remain here?
  • Which parts, if any, of the UK’s range of statutory employment law protections and obligations will automatically cease once a full withdrawal from the EU is negotiated and put into effect?
  • What happens if the UK ends up with a “partial” Norway style arrangement whereby it stays in the single market?

Specifically, after a full withdrawal, will the UK Government repeal laws that have attracted a varying level of unpopularity from employer groups including:

  • the maximum 48-hour working week
  • how statutory holiday pay should be calculated
  • the requirement for agency workers to be paid the same rate for the job as permanent staff once they have been in post 12 weeks
  • the inclusion of commission and/or overtime in holiday pay calculations.
  • the lack of exemptions for small businesses in relation to family leave rights.

The other unknown at this stage is whether the existing legislative programme that was included in the recent Queens Speech will be modified in any way once the new Conservative Cabinet is in place. In theory, it should not be affected but, as we have seen over recent days, nothing is certain in the current climate.

We will endeavour to give accurate and informative progress reports on each of the above questions as things become clearer. What is clear is that a democratic referendum has taken place and that a result has been declared.

Just for the record, here are the votes of the UK Jury.

Total number eligible to vote in the referendum                46,470.990  (100.00%)

Number who did not vote in the referendum                      12,918,907   (27.80%)

Number who actually voted in the referendum                   33,551,983  (72.20%)

Number who actually voted to remain in the EU                 16,141,241  (34.73%)

Number who actually voted to leave the EU                        17,410,742   (37.47%)
 

Also, a recent Qdos website article on the new Trade Union Act confirmed that the following change to the law had received Royal Assent:

“To make a special provision in certain public services, including the health, education, transport, border security and fire sectors, for the introduction of an additional minimum threshold of 40% of support from all eligible members which must be met for the proposed industrial action to be classed as being legal.”

If you have any particular queries or concerns relating to the impact of Brexit upon your employees, contact a member of the Qdos HR team for more guidance and information.