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  • Tom Bernard

The effect of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill on employment law

A legacy of the United Kingdom’s membership of the EU was a raft of laws relating to workers’ rights and employment law in general that were directly introduced into law in our country through the Acquired Rights Directive.

Brexit and the subsequent agreements reached for the departure of the United Kingdom from the EU have meant that the future of these EU-derived laws has long been up in the air. The European Union Withdrawal Act meant that most EU-derived laws in existence in the United Kingdom on or before 31st December 2020 were retained.

The government has recently introduced a bill to parliament – The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill – which, if implemented, will automatically repeal all EU derived law, including any UK statutory instruments introduced to bring those EU laws into effect, in the United Kingdom on 31st December 2023 (or no later than 31st December 2026 as the final date can be extended). This is unless specific legislation is introduced to retain such laws. Feasibly, this could lead to a drastic change in the employment law landscape in just over a year’s time.

Retained EU-derived legislation in the United Kingdom includes the following:

  • TUPE – protecting the rights of employees and workers in the case of a business transfer or service provision change such as a tendering exercise

  • Working Time Regulations – the right to guaranteed paid annual holiday, a capped working week at 48 hours without a signed opt-out agreement, the right to rest breaks in work hours and between shifts.

  • Agency Workers Regulations – protections afforded to agency workers including the right to comparable terms after 12 weeks on assignment.

  • Part Time Workers Regulations – protecting those who work less than full time hours from detrimental treatment in the workplace

  • The Equality Act 2010 – the anti-discrimination laws contained within this Act generally derive from EU laws, so feasibly could be at threat also.

Furthermore, the principle of supremacy of EU law will formally be repealed by 31st December 2023 – this includes decisions of the Courts of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Currently any CJEU decision made before 1st January 2021 is binding on UK Courts unless the government officially departs from it. However, from 31st December 2023, UK Law will be preferable to EU Law and UK Courts and Tribunals will be unable to use CJEU decisions to interpret UK laws.

While nobody can predict exactly what effect this Bill will have or what laws will survive the cull, what it does do is create uncertainty for business, employers, employees and lawyers. We recommend you keep in contact with rradar to keep up to date with any changes which might affect your business.

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