Workers Rights and No Deal Brexit

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Thursday 20 December 2018

The Government has published various notices explaining the position in the “unlikely” event of a no deal Brexit. Workplace Rights If There’s No Brexit Deal makes reassuring reading. The vast majority of rights will remain in force courtesy of the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018. These include -

·         Annual leave, holiday pay, rest breaks

·         Maternity and paternity leave

·         Anti discrimination laws

·         The rights of part-time workers

But these are likely to glide out of sync with similar rights in the remaining EU countries if the Government does not take on board amendments or refinements to the regulations. And case law as it develops in the European Court of Justice will not have application in this jurisdiction. Is this a good or a bad thing? It depends on your point of view. Over time there may be judicial moves to expand workers’ rights or contract them. And there’s thought to be a very low risk indeed of the Government eventually dismantling the workers’ rights we have become accustomed to. But there may be tough lobbying by employers over the years to come.

The only potential loss of rights is for UK employees working in the remaining EU countries when a UK based employer becomes insolvent.

So this is not the time to amend employment contracts to cut out employee rights gained from EU regulation (this would be illegal and not good for employee relations), but a good time to wait and see what happens.

And please note that unfair dismissal law, and the National Minimum Wage, and the law concerning unauthorised deductions, and statutory redundancy law are all UK based with nothing to do with the EU. And in some cases UK law goes further than EU regulation; eg in the case of pregnancy and maternity law.

But perhaps a future Government will see an opportunity to ditch the Working Time Directive 48 hour week maximum - there is of course already an opt out in the UK.


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