The latest on the Retained Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill


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In October's edition of hrlaw@trowers we reported on the introduction of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill to the House of Commons.  

The Bill provides that all retained EU law contained in domestic secondary legislation (such as, for example, the Working Time Regulations) and retained direct EU legislation will be revoked on 31 December 2023 unless a decision has been made to preserve it. This means that over the next twelve months or so, government departments and the devolved administrations will need to decide which retained EU law can expire, and which should be preserved and incorporated into domestic law.

How much EU retained legislation does the government have to go through? In the summer Jacob Rees-Mogg MP (in the role he occupied at the time of Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency) put together a retained EU legislation dashboard which contains over 2,400 pieces of legislation. It emerged on 8 November that an additional 1,400 pieces of legislation have been found (apparently discovered by officials at National Archives) so the amount of legislation that needs reviewing is now considerable!

Until a full audit of all the existing EU retained legislation is carried out employers and workers may wake up on New Years' Day 2024 to considerable uncertainty, unknown employment rights and obligations. This will result in litigation, and delay and considerable uncertainty.

It's worth noting that the General Secretary of Unison, Christina McAnea, wrote to the Prime Minister last month to express concerns about the Bill and to seek assurances on workers' rights. Unison is asking the government to remove all employment legislation from the scope of the Bill altogether, and to extend the sunset date to the end of 2033, to allow the government more time for a proper review.

Meanwhile on 21 November the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) published its formal opinion on the UK government's regulatory impact assessment for the Bill and red-rated the impact assessment as not fit for purpose. The RPC is an independent body which scrutinises how proposed regulatory measures put forward by the government can affect businesses and civil society organisations. It appraises the evidence and analysis in the impact assessments which government departments prepare when they propose new regulatory measures. The RPC states that it has major concerns about the quality of the evidence and analysis and the overall quality of the impact assessment which need to be addressed. It finds that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has not sufficiently considered, or sought to quantify, the full impacts of the Bill.

It seems from this that the smooth passage and future of the Bill are far from certain. We'll keep you up to date with developments as they arise.

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