Employee rights – all change?
The Government has announced the introduction of a Bill that could potentially have a significant impact on employee rights.
The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill was published on 22 September. If passed, the effect of the Bill will be to ‘sunset’ the majority of retained EU law, which will expire on 31 December 2023 unless the Government introduces legislation to preserve it. This means that statutory instruments introduced in the UK to comply with EU law will expire, unless they are specifically retained.
Which employee rights could this affect?
There are over 2,4000 pieces of retained EU law, across 300 policy areas and 21 sectors of the UK economy. These are catalogued in the retained EU dashboard.
From an employment law perspective, the Bill could potentially affect employee rights contained within:
- The Working Time Regulations
- The Part-time Workers Regulations
- The Fixed-term Employees Regulations
- The Agency Workers Regulations
- Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE)
- The Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act in relation to collective consultation obligations
- The Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations
The end of EU supremacy
At the moment, retained EU legislation has supremacy over UK legislation. The Bill reverses this, to “reinstate domestic law as the highest form of law on the UK statute book.”
In addition, from 31 December 2023, UK Courts will no longer be required to interpret retained EU law in accordance with EU law. This may affect, for example, issues surrounding the calculation of holiday pay.
Will there be a reduction of employee rights?
The Government had previously agreed as part of the UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement that it would not weaken or reduce the level of protection for workers below the levels in place at the end of the Brexit transition period, which was 31 December 2020.
The Government had also indicated in January this year that there were no plans to reduce workers’ rights, and that the Government wanted to protect and enhance workers’ rights post Brexit, not “row back” on them.
We will need to wait and see which rights the Government will decide to retain within the next 15 months and which rights will expire without being replaced. Although the sunset date is 31 December 2023, this can be extended up to 23 June 2026 in some circumstances.
29 September 2022
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