We’re not going to make any sarcastic comments about the UK Governments’ no deal Brexit papers, the first third of which were released on 23rd August (even though it’s SO tempting!).
The paper on workplace rights in the event of a no Brexit deal was among the first set released. You can read the whole paper here, but ‘highlights’ from it include:
This notice informs businesses, workers and citizens of the UK’s plans to continue workplace protections in the unlikely event that the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place. This government firmly believes in the importance of strong labour protections. Amendments we are putting in place will ensure legal certainty and clarity for stakeholders on their responsibilities and rights.
Before 29 March 2019
The workplace rights and protections covered in this notice come from EU law and include the following:
- the Working Time Regulations, which include provisions for annual leave, holiday pay and rest breaks
- family leave entitlements, including maternity and parental leave
- certain requirements to protect the health and safety of workers
- legislation to prevent and remedy discrimination and harassment based on sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, and race or ethnic origin in the workplace, and any resulting victimisation
- the TUPE regulations, protecting workers’ rights in certain situations when there is a transfer of business or contracts from one organisation to another
- protections for agency workers and workers posted to the UK from EU states
- legislation to cover employment protection of part-time, fixed-term and young workers; information and consultation rights for workers, including for collective redundancies
- legislation covering insolvency referred to in the Employment Rights Act 1996 and Pension Schemes Act 1993, administering redundancy related payments to employees in case of insolvency. The legislation that applies in Northern Ireland is the Employment Rights (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 and the Pension Schemes (Northern Ireland) Act 1993.
After 29 March 2019 if there’s ‘no deal’
The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 brings across the powers from EU Directives. This means that workers in the UK will continue to be entitled to the rights they have under UK law, covering those aspects which come from EU law (including those listed above except where caveated below). Domestic legislation already exceeds EU-required levels of employment protections in a number of ways. The government will make small amendments to the language of workplace legislation to ensure the existing regulations reflect the UK is no longer an EU country. These amendments will not change existing policy. This will provide legal certainty, allowing for a smooth transition from the day of EU exit, and will ensure that employment rights remain unchanged, including the employment rights of those working in the UK on a temporary basis, except where set out below.
The UK government will continue to work with the devolved administrations to ensure workers’ rights continue to operate across the UK.
In the following cases, withdrawal from the EU in a ‘no deal’ scenario has impacts on participation in agreed arrangements with the EU which benefit all EU countries:
- Employer Insolvency: Currently, UK and EU employees working in the UK are protected under the Employment Rights Acts 1996 and Pension Schemes Act 1993(or the relevant legislation in Northern Ireland on employment rights and pension schemes) implementing the Insolvency Directive, with procedures in place for making claims in the case of employer insolvency. Similarly, UK employees working in an EU country are protected by the laws of that country that implement the directive.
- European Works Councils: Currently EU law allows for workers to request, in certain circumstances, that their employer establishes a European Works Council to provide information and consult with employees on issues affecting employees across two or more European Economic Area states. These rules are set out in the European Works Council Directive (2009/38/EC). The statutory framework that applies to European Works Councils would require a reciprocal agreement from the EU for them to continue to function in their present form within the UK.
The European Commission also published their own paper ‘Preparing for the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union on 30 March 2019’ in July, which makes sobering reading. You can read their “brexit preparedness Notices here. Their summary says:
Private actors, business operators and professionals need to take responsibility for their individual situation, assess the potential impacts of a cliff-edge scenario on their business model, make the necessary economic decisions and take and conclude all required administrative steps before 30 March 2019. The citizens who will be affected by the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, as well as the public administrations that serve them, should also prepare for 30 March 2019.
You can read my 2013 article on what employment laws derive from the EU here.
And you can read the UK Governments 2014 report on the Free Movement of People here
And their March 2018 report on The UK’s contribution to the EU Budget here.