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Parliament to Vote on Adopting EU Employment Laws After Brexit

Parliament to Vote on Adopting EU Employment Laws After Brexit


Parliament will be able to vote on whether to adopt future EU employment laws after Brexit, the Prime Minister has promised. The pledge, which would give Parliament a greater say over legislating workers’ rights after Brexit, was made by Theresa May as part of a bid to gain MPs’ support for her EU withdrawal deal. Parliament, trade unions and businesses would all be consulted on future changes in EU employment law under the plan, before workplace standards or rights were raised in the UK.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said of the proposal: “After Brexit, it should be for Parliament to decide what rules are most appropriate, rather than automatically accepting EU changes.”

The move has led unions to express concern that workers’ rights in the UK could become less rigorous after Brexit, with some criticising the lack of any formal commitment to guarantee existing workers’ rights in the withdrawal agreement.

Unison boss Dave Prentis stated:

“European laws have made working in the UK safer and better. Brexit mustn’t mean UK employees become the cheapest to hire and the easiest to fire.”

The TUC expressed similar concerns and dismissed the Prime Minister’s assurances as “blatant window dressing,” which amounted to little more than “flimsy procedural tweaks”.

UK employment law after Brexit

Current EU rules on workers’ rights will continue to have a strong hold on employers’ obligations towards their employees after Brexit. The government has said that it will enshrine the existing body of EU law on workplace standards into domestic legislation after Brexit – meaning that the law as it currently stands will not change upon the UK’s withdrawal.

New EU legislation which is not in force at the time of Brexit will be subject to the proposed new “Commons lock.”

This will include new legislation which the UK has already voted to approve in EU meetings but Parliament will now decide whether to implement, such as the Work Life Balance Directive and Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive.

The Work Life Balance Directive – which is due to come into force in EU member states after 2020 – will guarantee two months of paid leave for parents with children under eight and five days paid leave a year for carers, as well as giving all workers with children under eight the right to request flexible working.

The Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive meanwhile will set terms of employment for workers from their first day of employment and require employers to ensure more certainty for those on shift work.

UK workers’ rights to remain “world-leading”

The Prime Minister has made assurances that employment laws in the UK will remain stringent after Brexit, stating: “When it comes to workers’ rights, this Parliament has set world-leading standards and will continue to do so in the future, taking its own decisions working closely with trade unions and businesses.”

However, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has expressed concern that the lack of legal guarantees to retain EU employment law means that UK workers will lose certainty in their rights. Whilst existing EU rights will not automatically be removed from English law after Brexit, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act provides no legal guarantee that EU laws currently in force in the UK cannot be repealed, limited or weakened by future UK governments after withdrawal.

The British Chambers of Commerce has welcomed the PM’s proposals that businesses be consulted on new employment law proposal. BCC director general Dr Adam Marshall says businesses “will welcome moves to strengthen enforcement measures against the tiny minority of employers out there who wilfully violate the law of the land to undercut their competitors.”

Employment law advice for businesses

Our experienced employment solicitors provide advice on the employment aspects of all major business decisions including policies, training, dispute resolution and tribunal claims, settlement agreements, TUPE and more. For advice, please contact a member of the team on 03456 381 381 or email employment@ibblaw.co.uk.