Change is on its way
There’s not much we know for certain about what will happen to UK employment law in the wake of Brexit.
But what I can tell you is that things are likely to change.
The Prime Minister has made it clear that he cannot – and will not – guarantee that our regulations will remain closely aligned with those of the EU.
Indeed, the possibility of a guarantee was explicitly written out of the Withdrawal Agreement. Whilst an original draft contained clauses which guaranteed the protection of all EU derived workers’ rights, by the time the document gained parliamentary assent these had disappeared.
So what can we expect, both during the next 12 months of the transition period and then into the future as the UK cuts all its legislative ties with our former partners?
Well, one thing which was promised in that Withdrawal Agreement was a new Employment Bill. It also featured in the Queen’s Speech so we know it is firmly on the agenda, though there has been little public comment on its likely contents or any firm timetable for when it might be introduced.
There is also the possibility of changes to the raft of employment laws currently in place which derive from EU legislation.
The Equality Act of 2010, for example, might well come in for some Governmental attention once we have fully exited from the EU at the end of January 2021. There is zero prospect of the act being withdrawn, but it might be that the Government will act to cap the level of compensation payouts which can be awarded in the event of a successful claim. At present, compensation awards can be unlimited.
We already know the bones of the new immigration policy after Home Secretary Priti Patel unveiled plans for a point-based system last month and reduced the minimum salary level for Tier 2 skilled workers visas from £30,000 to £25,600.
The Government says the move will mean that future immigration is based more on skills that nationality, but there will undoubtedly be challenges ahead for companies which rely on recruiting unskilled labour from overseas.
It’s also possible that the Government will look to a couple of areas where business currently feels the law imposes a burden of red tape – such as the TUPE, the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 and agency workers regulations.
Anyone who has any experience of TUPE – designed to protect workers’ rights in the event of a business transfer or service provision change – will know what a minefield it can be to navigate and any move to simplify or streamline it to aid business would be widely welcomed.
The same might be said of agency workers’ rights, which are again derived from EU legislation and can be difficult and time-consuming to interpret and the controversial EU Working Time Regulations which set a 48-hour maximum for the working week.
This is, of course, all speculation and we will only know how much will change when the Government starts presenting its new Employment Bill. But, as with almost everything concerning Brexit, it’s best to be prepared and to think ahead.
So if you want any further help or advice, just click the button for your free consultation. We’ll help ensure you can adapt to any change as seamlessly as possible.