Whatever the outcome of Brexit – and sooner or later there will have to be an outcome of one sort or another – one thing is certain.
If and when we leave the EU, workers’ rights will inevitably change.
There has been plenty of speculation in recent weeks about what this might mean – particularly after a leaked memo suggested the terms of Boris Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement meant the UK could diverge from EU standards once Brexit was completed.
The government paper, drawn up by the Brexit Department, stated that the UK was open to significant divergence – though Government ministers denied that they were planning to water down existing rights.
The EU had previously insisted that our standards should match those within the union as part of any free trade agreement.
Which leaves us all wondering just where we stand.
In the short term, there is unlikely to be a huge upheaval on the first day after Brexit.
The Government has agreed that many of the UK employment laws which come from EU directives will remain written in UK law under the provisions of the EU Withdrawal Act.
But while that means rights on day one are relatively unchanged, it will be for the Government to then decide how they might evolve over the following months and years.
We know that many EU citizens will be able to continue to work here just as they have under EU rules once we are no longer part of the European Union.
EU citizens who have lived in the UK for five years or more when Brexit takes place have the right to work in the UK indefinitely by applying for 'settled status', whilst those who have been here for less than five years have the right to work in the UK indefinitely by applying for 'pre-settled status'. They can then change this to the full ‘settled status’ once they have lived here for five years.
But for those EU citizens heading to the UK after Brexit the situation is less clear – with their status and eligibility being subject to any rules and agreements that are made between the UK and EU under their new trading arrangements.
One area the Government has promised will remain unchanged is the legal right held by employees to be informed and consulted about issues at work if the company or organisation has 50 or more employees.
Under these rights workers must be told about plans and decisions, be consulted on changes in working conditions and have the right to ask for a formal agreement with the employer should sufficient numbers agree.
Once a formal agreement is in place workers must then be told about the economic situation of the business, job prospects and major changes in how work is organised.
And even if such an agreement is not in place, staff still have the right to be told of any plans to sell the business or buy a new one, and of 20 or more redundancies in any 90-day period at any single place of work.
Of course, none of us can say what might happen after Brexit or how rights might change. But we can promise that HR Solutions Shropshire will be here to help you in any way we can. Just click the button for a free consultation.