What does the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill mean to Employment Law?
Employment Law, as business owners and their employees have known it for almost 50 years, could be due to change as the final Brexit untangling takes place and the retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform Bill) has a second reading this week.
Employment lawyers have strong reservations about the chaos which could ensue and the uncertainty it may leave in its wake. In just over a year it will be all change for employment law after this week's reading.
“From January 2024 the employment landscape as we know it could be ripped up and this has the potential to create uncertainty for employees and employers on a whole host of employment law matters – life as they know it could be about to change,” warned Head of Employment at Pearson Solicitors, Susan Mayall.
EU Employment Rights
We have ‘Europe’ to thank for some of our more progressive employment rights such as;
- working time
- paid holidays
- equality of treatment for part time and fixed term workers
However, Revocation and Reform Bill seeks to look again at employment rights, with the UK no longer bound to adhere to EU employment law.
“Many European rights we now take for granted, the right to take parental leave, family friendly policies and rights for part time workers will impact more women than men and if this bill is put into law as is it would effectively remove the hard fought for employment law rights of the past 50 years,” added Susan
What does Revocation and Reform Bill do?
It essentially ‘turns off’ all EU based employment law and without consultation allows the Government to rewrite employment legislation.
The new Bill would affect the gig economy and essentially remove equality for part time workers, fixed term workers, agency workers and it would remove the rights for employees under TUPE.
“As business owners and employment lawyers we have all been used to dealing with the status quo when it comes to tribunals, now untested and unknown employment rights could cause issues and quite simply become grounds for litigation.”
“We could also have the bizarre scenario that two similar employment cases, one contested in December 2023, and one just a week later in January 2024 could have a different legal basis and may have a completely different outcome,” said Susan.
Some of the bigger issues in European law have been the rights of workers and the rights of women with regards to equal pay. Equal Pay rights in the Equality Act 2010 have, since 1976 been supplemented by EU law and recently we have seen women working in supermarkets making equal pay claims and using European employment rights to compare themselves to men and ultimately getting a decision in their favour.
If these rights are eroded unscrupulous employers could no longer be faced with equal pay claims. Similarly, relaxing the working time directive could affect the hours employees are expected to work and force excessive working hours and an uncomfortable working environment, all of which is surely a step backwards.
“Our employer clients come to us for advice and clarification and this uncertainty does no one any favours. What we are seeing here is the proposed tearing up of almost 50 years of legislation and we will be unable to predict the effect of workers’ rights or employers’ obligations moving forward,” said Susan.
“Employment tribunals are already backed up after the pandemic and without clear legislation the Tribunal will have no precedents to base its decisions on - what we need now is clarity from the new Government working under Mr Sunak,” said Susan.
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Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.
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