With the upcoming referendum, there are numerous concerns on the potential effect of the UK leaving the EU, none less than the potential implications on employment law. Although a large number of UK employment laws have originated from the EU, it is unlikely that a “Brexit” will have considerable impact on employment law. Wholesale changes to TUPE rights, for example, would be considerably unpopular and such fundamental changes are likely to be politically difficult.
There may be small changes however.
Human Rights Act
Should the Human Rights Act be repealed or watered down, this will have significant impact on trade unions. It would be possible to propose laws to make it tougher for trade unions to commence strike action as well as restricting other freedoms and rights of trade unions.
Holiday Pay and Working Time
Although unlikely that there will be any change to the legal obligation to have paid holiday, other changes such as the 48 hour weekly working time limit may be scrapped or amended, which could be popular with employers.
A simpler method of calculating holiday pay may be introduced to avoid adjustments relating to non-guaranteed overtime and commission payments. Also the requirement for employers to pay workers on sick leave in lieu of holidays on termination may be removed or changed.
There may be changes to the current requirements for employers to provide agency staff with the same core terms and conditions as directly employed staff after 12 weeks; as well as the provisions requiring employers to notify employee representatives of certain information relating to agency workers in collective redundancy and TUPE transfer situations could change.
Employee Consultation and Discrimination
Again, there are unlikely to be substantial changes to the requirements to inform and consult employees, albeit that these regulations can be somewhat cumbersome. Similarly, removal or dilution of discrimination and equal pay protections are unlikely to happen due to the complications with the voters, as they are fundamental to current employee law.
It would seem that a “Brexit” could cause significant issues with regards to immigration, both in regards to sending UK employees to the EU and also receiving people from current member states to the UK. Free movement of workers within the EU allows UK businesses to send their employees abroad to work at facilities in other member states free of regulatory burdens. Removing this right could mean that UK employers sending staff abroad would have to go back to applying for visas.
These assumptions are based on the UK leaving the EU altogether, but depending on the form that “Brexit” negotiations take the UK could seek to remain within the European Economic Area (EEA) or European Free Trade Area (EFTA). These negotiations could leave the UK bound by existing EU directives on working time, agency workers and collective consultation without the ability to influence these laws.