UK Law and Brexit

Brexit

It’s hard to imagine anyone in the UK not being aware of the historic result of the recent referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU: a vote in favour of leaving the EU.  Much remains unclear about how, when and under what terms the UK will actually leave the EU.

What does Brexit mean to UK businesses?

In the short term it’s business as usual: the UK is still a full member of the EU with all the rights an responsibilities that entails.  As has been well documented and debated in the press, until notice is given under Article 50, our status as an EU member remains unchanged.  Even after Article 50 is triggered we remain a member of the EU until exit negotiations are concluded or at the end of 2 years (unless an extension to the negotiation period is agreed by all other EU members).

How will Brexit affect UK employment law?

Employers may have a particular interest with the impact of Brexit on employment law.  The status of ex patriot workers after the UK leaves the EU is a hot political topic.  But employers may also be wondering how UK law will change in regards to areas such as TUPE, working time and discrimination which have  been shaped by EU directives.   Many employment lawyers are of the opinion that wholesale change is unlikely, for the following reasons:

  • EU countries may be reluctant to enter into trade deals with the UK if employers here are able to operate in a less ‘burdensome’ (i.e. cheaper) employment environment
  • UK laws created to implement EU directives will remain binding even after leaving the EU.

Some aspects of UK employment law that may be changed after leaving the EU include:

  • some aspects of TUPE arrangements e.g. some of the consultation requirements and post-transfer harmonisation of terms
  • some aspects of the Working Time Regulations e.g. the right to accrue holiday while on long-term sick leave, and the inclusion of commission and overtime in holiday pay calculations
  • the rights of agency workers
  • collective redundancy consultation
  • renewed calls for a cap on discrimination claims under the Equality Act 2010.

How is recruitment affected?

Since the UK is still a full member of the EU, and will be for some time yet, EU nationals may still exercise their rights to live and work in the UK.  Similarly, UK workers are still able to live and work within EU member states.  That is the legal reality.  The political landscape is less clear with the ongoing debate on the status of European workers after withdrawal from the EU.  It seems likely that EU nationals lawfully in the EU now will be allowed to stay, assuming that UK nationals in EU member states will be treated similarly.

Employers may still not discriminate against employees or applicants because they are not UK citizens.  Of course, it’s possible that employers may actually have fewer applicants from EU countries due to the uncertainly over their future rights within the UK.  There are already anecdotal reports of employers in the health sector seeing fewer European applicants.  So, while the law remains unchanged employers may begin to see changes in recruitment patterns.

How does Brexit affect legal documents?

At this stage, there is on direct impact on any of the Clickdocs legal documents or templates.  We will continue to monitor legislation and update any documents as necessary.

Given that the EU legislative machine continues apace, we are likely to continue to see UK legislation enacting EU directives.  As changes occur we will review our legal templates, update where necessary, and share information about updated UK law on our website, Facebook page, Twitter feed and here in our blog.