What impact will the EU referendum result have on UK employment law?

The EU referendum vote on the 23rd June 2016 was undoubtedly a historic landmark in British political history.  Whether you were in the ‘remain’ camp or the ‘Brexit’ camp, the country has made its decision.  The next few months are likely to be fraught with uncertainly, with many ‘think tanks’ speculating about what may or may not happen.

From an Employment law view point, it is a fact that a significant proportion of the UK’s employment legislation comes from the European Union, including for example discrimination rights, collective consultation obligations, and working time regulations to mention a few.

In theory, once Britain has left the EU, the UK government could repeal all of this. However, the reality is that much of this legislation is now so embedded in our employment law, that it is unlikely that we will see any significant change, at least in the short term.

The Equality Act 2010 is primary legislation, and whilst it incorporates EU law, it is highly unlikely to be repealed. It is difficult to envisage any scenario whereby legislation would permit discrimination on any of the protected grounds, such as disability, race, religion or sex.

Much of the parental and family leave rights in the UK are a mixture of rights derived from the EU and also UK legislation. The introduction of the right to shared parental leave and employees rights to request flexible working were incorporated into UK law without any influence from the EU, with many rights, such as 52 weeks maternity leave far exceeding many of our European neighbours.

Collective consultation for redundancies involving 20 or more people within a fixed period does however stem from an EU Directive. Given the uncertainly that some employers may now face, this unpopular piece of legislation could see a watering down of the current collective consultation requirements.

There have been, and will be in the short term, many predictions of what ‘may’ happen.  However, leaving the EU will have no immediate impact on Employment legislation. In any event, recently we have been use to “tweaks” created by our own government to ease us through the recession.

We will of course be keeping a watchful eye on the whole Brexit situation, and will keep you updated with any confirmed developments or changes to our Employment legislation.

Should you have any employment concerns, please contact our specialist Employment team who will be able to offer you expert advice and guidance.