Whether you are vote remain, exit/Brexit (not a real word), undecided or uninformed the E.U Referendum is certainly the talk of the town right now. Those of you who attended our seminar may remember the final section about the impacts of leaving the E.U on HR/employment law and we thought that as this was final newsletter before the referendum it would be a good time to go into further detail.
Before you roll your eyes at another potentially fear-driven piece of pro-E.U rhetoric it is highly unlikely that leaving the E.U will result in kids going back up chimneys and employers being able to discriminate at will.
Many of you will know that a large amount of current UK employment law stems from the E.U via the European Communities Act 1972, including:
– Equal Pay Act 1970 (Article 157 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union)
– Data Protection Act (Data Protection Directive)
– Working Time Regulations 1998 (Working Time Directive)
– Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (Temporary and Agency Workers Directive)
– Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (Collective Redundancies Directive)
– Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (Health and Safety Directive)
– Maternity and Parental Leave, etc Regulations 1999 (Pregnant Workers Directive)
– (TUPE) Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (Transfer of Undertakings Directive)
If Britain did opt to leave the E.U there is a possibility that all these laws could be repealed. However, as many of these laws are deemed to be fair and unjust it is our view that they will not be repealed but tweaked and watered down.
For example, the Working Time Regulations could be amended to extend the working week above 48 hours and reduce holiday and/or rest time. Likewise certain aspects of TUPE consultation could be amended. In any case these amendments will often benefit employers despite being unpopular at a national level.
Furthermore, from a recruitment perspective, freedom of movement comes from the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 (Free Movement Directive) and an E.U Brexit could mean employers lose out on the productive labour that many EU migrants bring to the workforce. However, many E.U migrants may have lived in the UK long enough to be eligible for citizenship (5 years) which would circumvent the issue.
Even if Britain does vote to leave the E.U it will most likely take several years to negotiate an exit which would mean there would be a considerable transition period to prepare for any changes. It is also possible that a Brexit result could mean nothing changes. If the UK takes a similar deal to Norway or Switzerland, we will still bound by much of the E.U legislation, including freedom of movement.
Overall even if Britain does leave the E.U it will be a while before we know the full extent of its impact on HR/Employment Law.