Brexit: Employment Law Implications

On the 23rd June 2016, the UK public voted to leave the European Union. The vote to leave the EU has led to uncertainty for many businesses, their employees and the UK economy as a whole. As no country has never actually left the EU, it is not yet known when the process of Brexit will commence or when the United Kingdom will actually leave.

How will Brexit impact UK Employment Law?

Perhaps the most common and urgent issue for employers concerns the status of European Union citizens. Can employees and workers from EU Member States continue to live and work in the UK? Furthermore, what about British citizens working elsewhere in the EU?

In theory, following a Brexit, EU citizens will no longer have the automatic right to reside and work in the UK, and vice versa, unless they have already obtained permanent residency. Freedom of movement is one of the four economic freedoms of the EU, and it’s likely to be a fundamental part of the negotiations around the post-Brexit relationship between the UK and EU. Therefore, the UK is highly unlikely to take any immediate steps to restrict the freedom of movement rights of citizens of other Member States. During the negotiation period, the free movement of people should continue up to the point of the actual Brexit, meaning that employers could possibly expect more workers to arrive during this period.

What other areas of employment law are likely to be affected?

Some areas of UK employment law, such as the National Minimum Wage and the law relating to unfair dismissal, are outside of the scope of EU law and are instead regulated by UK legislation. Therefore, these areas are unlikely to be affected by a Brexit. However, other areas of employment law, including equal pay, unlawful discrimination, business transfers, working time regulations, collective redundancy consultation and other certain family-friendly rights, have been profoundly influenced by the EU, either by way of a European Directive or through case law. It is also important to take into account that although the EU provides a legislative yardstick, in many instances the UK actually provides protection in excess of the minimum requirement stipulated by the EU.

Some practical steps for employers to take pending an official Brexit

Carry out an audit of your workforce in terms of where they work and what their immigration status is
Review all employment contracts and policies
If you think that any of your employees may be affected, communicate with them
Determine the effect, if any, on benefit schemes

For more information about the implications of Brexit on employment law or to find out more about the employment law services that we offer in Preston and throughout the Fylde Coast, please contact Coupe Bradbury Solicitors on 01253 736670 or at lytham@coupe-bradbury.com.