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What impact will BREXIT have on employers?

View profile for Clare Bowen
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A very common question amongst employers and employees right now.

There will be no immediate changes to UK employment law; withdrawal negotiations need to take place starting when the UK triggers art.50 of the Treaty on European Union; it is not yet known when this will happen, it could take 2 years from this point and may even be extended.

Although much UK employment law is derived from EU law, the UK's withdrawal from the EU is unlikely in itself to have an immediate impact on employment law as most EU Directives are implemented in the UK by regulations or Acts of Parliament. For example, even if the UK is no longer required to comply with the EU equality Directives, the Equality Act 2010 will remain in place. It will be for Parliament to decide whether to retain, amend or repeal domestic legislation.

It has been suggested that should a Government come in who is looking to roll back employment regulation,  the UK may see a change in legislations that are currently governed by EU law such as, the calculation of holiday pay, agency workers' rights and the introduction of a cap on compensation in discrimination claims.

However it is also possible that the UK may be required to continue to implement elements of EU legislation as a condition of a negotiated trade deal between the UK and EU.

Areas such as working time, TUPE and discrimination law that have been heavily influenced by decisions of the European Court of Justice will also continue to apply until the Government or the UK courts determine otherwise.

For now, the UK continues to be bound by EU legal requirements, and by the decisions of the European Court of Justice.

Should your employees be showing any concerns you may want to consider providing them with a letter of reassurance, explaining that there will be no immediate changes.  Any communications must be factual and not speculative, speculative communication may give a false sense of certainty which can then cause disengagement and disintegration of trust if the outcome is not as originally thought. Avoid being political, by giving a political point of view, a business can inadvertently alienate employees who have different opinions.  Remember that, communications should not be a one-off exercise, as the issues will become clearer over the coming months so keep employees updated. 

Should you currently employee any EU nationals, offer reassurance that there will be no immediate changes to their rights to live and work in the UK. The rights of EU nationals to come to the UK to live and work in the future will be a key element of the negotiations. Although nothing has been agreed, it has been suggested that EU nationals who are already living in the UK will be afforded special status, with reciprocal arrangements for UK nationals living in EU countries.

Watch this space!

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