An update on Brexit and employment law
The sunset clause in the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill (the Bill), which would have meant that almost all EU-derived law would have been automatically revoked by 31 December, has now been abandoned. Instead it will include a list of the retained EU laws that the government intends to revoke, which amounts to around 600 pieces of legislation.
The government has also released the first of a series of policy papers, 'Smarter regulation to grow the economy', which it published on 10 May. The paper sets out the government's proposed changes to employment law which it claims "will cut red tape for businesses and save £1 billion per year while safeguarding the rights of workers". The proposals include:
- removing the reporting requirements on working hours, permitting rolled-up holiday pay practices and merging the two current streams of leave entitlements (i.e. the 4 weeks' leave entitlement deriving from EU law and additional 1.6 weeks' leave entitlement in the UK) into one "pot" of statutory annual leave;
- removing the requirement to consult with employee representatives under TUPE for businesses with fewer than 50 people, enabling employers to consult directly with the affected employees; and
- legislating to limit the length of non-compete clauses to 3 months, the rationale being that this will provide employees with more flexibility to join a competitor or start up a rival business after they have left a position.
A government consultation was issued on 12 May (it closes on 7 July) on the proposed reforms to the Working Time Regulations, holiday pay and TUPE. A commitment is made in the consultation document to ensuring that retained EU employment law will be preserved in areas where the government are not either consulting on reforms or revoking legislation that is now irrelevant.
The regulations that the government is removing that are no longer relevant are:
- The Posted Workers (Enforcement of Employment Rights) Regulations 2016;
- The Posted Workers (Agency Workers) Regulations 2020; and
- The European Co-Operative Society (Involvement of Employees) Regulations 2006.
The areas of employment law which the Department for Business and Trade is responsible for, and which they have committed in the consultation to preserving, are:
- The Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regs 1999;
- The Paternity and Adoption Leave etc Regs 2002;
- Part-Time Workers Regs 2000;
- Fixed-Term Employees Regs 2002;
- Agency Workers Regs 2010;
- Transnational Information and Consultation of Employees Regs 1999; and
- Information and consultation of Employees Regs 2004