Much of the employment law with have in this country comes from the EU, including:- discrimination rights, collective consultation obligations, transfer of undertakings regulations, family leave, working time regulations and duties to agency workers.
Whilst it would now be possible for the UK government to repeal this it is unlikely to do so and in fact EU law will probably continue to significantly influence employment law in this country.
There are various reasons for this:
- Some employment law was implemented in the UK before the EU made it law. For example, UK equal pay, race and disability discrimination laws, right of return after maternity leave – all UK law. It is highly unlikely therefore that the government will suddenly decide to reverse this.
- Some employment law provides for rights that go further than what the EU requires. For example, UK family leave rights.
- Many of the employment rights that exist are generally considered to be a good thing and therefore even if it is solely based on EU law it is unlikely that the government would repeal these.
- The government is likely to determine that there is a requirement to continue to observe EU law even though we are not in the EU. This will be due to a need to stay in some sort of relationship with the EU. Any trade agreement negotiated with the EU is likely to be dependent on it.
It is much more likely that the government will gradually modify EU derived employment law to make it more applicable to UK employers and employees than repeal it altogether. As leaving the EU is a two year process nothing will happen quickly.
Once we have left the EU the European Courts of Justice (ECJ) will no longer have jurisdiction over UK courts and decisions made by the ECJ will not be binding on courts in this country. The decisions however already made by UK courts, taking into account EU law and ECJ decisions will remain binding unless it can be shown that the facts in any particular case are materially different. It is likely, however that UK courts will continue to at least consider ECJ decisions where relevant to cases being determined here.
So, in summary nothing drastic is going to happen to employment law as a result of Brexit and certainly not in the short term.
Employment law specialist