As we begin the journey to move forward from the vote to leave the EU, we consider the implications for Employment Law of Brexit.

Some UK Employment Laws are more generous than required by EU Regulations and these are unlikely to alter. For example, the National Minimum Wage is higher than other member states and maternity and shared parental leave is also higher (52 weeks). Where we have chosen to implement more generous rights, we doubt these will erode. Before I discuss the areas expected to change, we offer some practical advice for the short-term.

Harassment

The EU referendum has provoked passionate responses from both sides of the argument. People have been more open than ever before about their political views. Sweeping statements have been made about those who voted one way or the other. “Leave” voters have been labelled racist and uneducated. Statements have been made that the older generation have let the younger generation down by supporting Brexit. There have been notices put up at schools saying “Polish vermin go home”. Assumptions have been made based on religious belief as to which way people have voted.

Employers would be wise to remind staff about harassment laws and request that staff keep their opinions to themselves at work. Employers should also consider a review of social media policies as emotions will continue to run high in the coming weeks. If inappropriate comments are made by one of your employees, you need to ensure there is no come-back on you.

Discrimination

It is unlikely that discrimination laws will change dramatically as this would be deeply unpopular (many laws were in place before we were required to implement them by the EU). It is possible that age discrimination protection may be reduced and a national retirement age re-introduced.

It is also possible that a cap on the level of damages payable in a discrimination case may be introduced.

Agency Worker Regulations

These provide that agency workers should be offered the same protection as permanent workers after a period of employment. They have not been well-received by businesses and are likely to be abolished.

TUPE and Redundancy

TUPE is likely to remain post-Brexit but with some small changes. It is likely that it will be made easier for employee’s terms and conditions to be harmonised after a transfer (previously these were not permitted due to an EU decision).

It is also likely that the regulations relating to consultation regarding TUPE and collective redundancy consultations (where more than 20 are proposed to be made redundant) will be relaxed.

Holiday Pay / Working Time

We are entitled to a greater amount of holiday than the EU regulations require (5.6 weeks as opposed to 4 weeks). However, because of two European cases, employers are required to calculate holiday pay on the basis of commission and overtime payments received in the preceding weeks. This is likely to be repealed.

Employees can already opt out of the 48-hour maximum and, in any event, the maximum is often breached. It is likely that the maximum will be repealed.

Conclusion

While there are many concerns about the effect of the vote to leave, it is possible that the UK may end up with the best of both worlds – keeping the enhanced rights we offer, yet rejecting those imposed on us by Europe, although what’s good for employees may not necessarily be good for employers.

If you have any queries about this article or any other employment law matter, please contact Emily Kidd on 01932 588568 or e.kidd@employ.law.