How no-deal Brexit will affect Employment Law
Protection for workers after no-deal Brexit
Whether the UK leaves the EU on October 31 with or without a deal, workers will still be protected by our rigorous employment laws.
There are unlikely to be wholesale changes to our legislation and any changes will not happen overnight.
The type of Brexit that takes place will shape any changes that follow. Whatever happens, it will largely be business as usual for the UK, but it is worth consulting a solicitor who specialises in employment to ensure you are prepared.
EU staff working in the UK
The key issues regarding employment law are for EU staff working in the UK and UK staff working in the EU after October 31.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, workers from other EU states who were living in the UK on April 12, 2019, can continue working here. They can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after June 30, 2021. It means they can continue to be resident in the UK and without any immigration restriction on the length of stay.
For workers who came to the UK after April 12, 2019, the situation is more complicated and businesses should seek specialist employment legal advice.
UK staff working in the EU
In the event of a no-deal- Brexit, British citizens living and working in EU member states would lose their EU citizens’ right. The EU has ruled that it is up to individual member states to decide what rights to afford UK nationals in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
UK nationals living and working in Ireland are covered by the 1949 Ireland Act, which would remain in place in the event of a no-deal Brexit. They will not need to apply for settled status and their rights remain the same.
In certain countries, UK workers may not receive the full employment protections they do now.
Whichever EU country you are living in, the UK government’s advice is to register or apply for residency, check if you are covered for healthcare and register if necessary, exchange your UK driving licence for a licence issued by the EU country where you live and to check your passport.
And from January 1, 2021, the government is proposing new right-to-work checks, which companies need to ensure they are ready for. Again, it is worth seeking legal advice to ensure compliance.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, any changes to our existing laws, including those introduced as part of our EU membership, require Parliamentary approval, which can be a lengthy process.
As part of the UK’s EU membership, the government has often exceeded EU requirements when it comes to employment law, such as maternity leave rights under TUPE and the right to 5.6 weeks annual leave, compared to the EU’s four-week minimum.
Therefore, it is unlikely that a future government will want to reduce the protections enjoyed by the British workforce, including statutory redundancy pay, the minimum wage and tough discrimination laws.
Again, it is worth consulting an employment solicitor if you have staff working in other EU member states to see how their rights will be affected by a no-deal Brexit.
Another key area that will see major change is that post Brexit, the European Court of Justice will no longer have jurisdiction over British tribunals and courts, leaving the final judgments with the British judiciary.
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