The Brexit & UK Employment Law

If the UK leaves the European Union (EU) after the June 23rd referendum many workers will be left wondering how the change will affect laws associated with the UK workplace.
EU law supports a large part of British employment legislation, such as discrimination rights, working hours and the maternity rights granted to both women and men.

If Britain does leave the EU the government will be legally entitled to establish new laws independently of Europe, along with possessing the right to remove and strengthen the existing ones. This would be possible as Britain will no longer have to abide by the rules of the European Court of Justice.

What Changes Could The Brexit Create?
Despite the right to make changes becoming an instantly possibility for the UK government, it is however not likely that major alterations will immediately be instituted as a sudden shift from existing laws would contradict legal entitlements that UK workers are used to.

Such immediate change could interrupt benefits the average Briton has become accustomed to and thus lead to worker discord and public protest. Losses that could be made include the strong holiday pay legislation that was founded under EU law. It is far more likely that legal alterations would be made gradually and slightly due to negotiations in UK Parliament.

It’s also important to note that certain laws will almost certainly remain as they are due to them already being part of British legislation prior to Britain joining the EU. In other areas of law, Britain has actually gone beyond what has been required by EU legislation, such as introducing paternal leave rights so fathers have the opportunity to share maternity benefits with their partner. British legal progression of this nature is very unlikely to be altered as a result of the nation leaving the EU.

So Business As Usual Then?
Although it will certainly take a period of evaluation before the UK can map out a complete legal strategy for the future, it’s entirely possible that any eventual outcome might still rely on continuing European legislation unless the country elects to end its membership of the European Economic Area (EEA). If Britain does not leave the EEA certain aspects of EU employment law that will inevitably be kept. However, should this agreement be ended Britain will only need to behave in line with laws dictated by the World Trade Organisation instead of the EU.

In order to satisfy both UK workers and EU member states it is likely Britain will enter into a new series of laws that appease all trading partners in a way that will not give the UK an unfair trading advantages and thus not alienate EU nations or global trading partners.

What About Freedom of Employee Travel?
A founding aspect of EU employment law is for workers across the continent to possess the right to travel between EU states. One right involved with this law is that permanent residence in another EU country can be achieved as long as a worker has been employed for five or more years in that nation.

EU travel rights will be brought into question in the result of a Brexit and will subsequently limit international employment for UK citizens while restricting UK businesses from hiring foreign workers. Such legislation already has outspoken political voices speaking both for and against this action.

Of all the alterations that politicians on both sides of the Brexit debate argue for, employment legislation has generally not been a point of focus so far, although this could easily change in the near future.

Do you feel strongly about making changes to UK employment law?