In the months since the EU referendum, the business community has been alive with speculation about its impact on employment law.
As members of the European Union, we are required to implement its directives and honour decisions made by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Our employment laws have become so entwined with those of the EU that the Brexit vote raises important questions about what can be undone and how this will affect local companies.
Many employment rights, such as equality laws, are enshrined in legislation and cannot be altered without significant amendment in the UK parliament.
However, Britain’s exit from the EU will mean there is no requirement for us to be bound by the ECJ’s current, future or past decisions, many of which have proved controversial. It is even possible that some matters could return to the courts and result in a completely different outcome. For example, the recent and infamous British Gas Trading Ltd v Lock case, which determined in certain situations employers should include commission in the calculation of holiday pay.
Theresa May has indicated she will guarantee existing workers’ rights and enshrine current ECJ case law into UK legislation, but critics of Brexit have been quick to point out this is only the position of the current prime minister. The employment law landscape could alter radically once we leave the EU, depending on the political bias and decisions made by future governments.
Many rules implemented as a result of Britain’s membership of Europe enjoy broad public support, such as those preventing unlawful discrimination, but some were met with resistance when they were first introduced. Bodies lobbying on behalf of businesses would no doubt like to see the Agency Worker Regulations, 48-hour working week and TUPE legislation repealed or amended after Brexit.
Speaking to local employers following the referendum vote, it appears from anecdotal evidence, that the initial impact was a reduction in economic activity caused by a reluctance to place orders and make investment until the dust settled.
Decision makers have not, however, been prepared to wait indefinitely and momentum has once again returned. So, for now at least, it appears we are back to business as usual.
To find out more about the latest employment law news and comment, visit www.tayloremmet.co.uk, follow us on Twitter, @tayloremmet or telephone (0114) 218 4000 for specific advice about the effect Brexit may have on your business.