What impact will Brexit have on employment rights?

The UK is due to leave the European Union (EU) at 23:00 GMT on 31 October 2019. As this momentous date approaches, employment law is just one of the many areas of uncertainty.

There is a misconception that most of UK employment law stems from EU law and therefore, the withdrawal of the UK from the EU will cause a seismic change in employment rights. However, the truth is that much of UK employment law was brought into force via UK legislation and case law and, therefore, many aspects of employment will stay the same when the UK exits the EU.

The current position is that nothing has changed and the existing legislation and case law continues to apply to UK employment law.

What will stay the same?

The law on unfair dismissal, minimum wage, unauthorised deduction from wages, statutory redundancy pay, paternity leave, shared parental leave and flexible working all stem from UK legislation and case law. Brexit will have no direct impact on these areas of employment law.

Discrimination law

Discrimination law is one area whether there could be some reform. Under the Equality Act 2010, individuals are protected from unfavourable treatment on the ground of protected characteristics. The protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief and sex. The UK had protection against sex, race and disability discrimination pre-EU, but these rights have been extended by the EU, and additional protections have been added.

One possible change to discrimination laws may be the introduction of a cap on discrimination compensation (which is not currently allowed under EU law), similar to the cap for unfair dismissal.

However, wholesale changes to discrimination law seems unlikely.

EU employment law reforms on the horizon

In April 2019, the European Parliament approved new minimum rights for gig economy workers. When the new laws are put into place, gig economy workers in Europe will have a right to compensation from their employer for last-minute cancellation of shifts. The new rules will also require employers to give workers a formal start date and details of what their pay will be. Employers will also have to give workers a formal description of their duties from the day they start working.

It remains to be seen whether these changes would be implemented post-Brexit, but, in truth it appears unlikely.

Will employment law change post-Brexit?

Whilst no one can foresee what impact Brexit will have upon UK employment law, it seems unlikely that there will be any wholesale changes to this area of the law. Much of UK employment law stems from UK legislation and case law and, unless amended, these laws will remain in place once the UK leaves the EU.  Moreover, it is unlikely to be politically desirable for the government of the day to pursue policies that would lessen the protections that workers and employees currently enjoy.

This article was written by Employment Law Glasgow. You can visit their website here.