How Brexit may affect our employment laws

Employment law in the UK has been significantly influenced by EU law. Whilst not all employment laws come from the EU (e.g. unfair dismissal and national minimum wage), a large proportion does.

  • It is impossible at this stage to predict how the employment laws will be affected by Brexit and it will largely depend on the negotiations that will follow once Article 50 has been invoked. 
  • The UK could decide to create a new form of relationship with Europe that may allow them to move away completely from the EU social and employment policies but this comes with significant risk, would take a number of years to put into effect and would be very costly.    It is unlikely that all employment rights from the EU would be withdrawn or significantly changed however the areas at risk that could be affected and changed include discrimination rights, collective consultation obligations, transfer of undertakings (TUPE), family friendly rights, Working Time Regulations and duties to Agency Workers. 
  • It has been suggested that the UK could follow a relationship based on either the Norwegian or Swiss models.  If the UK decides to follow the Norwegian model and become part of EFTA and the EEA it would remain subject to most aspects of UK EU social and employment policy.  If the UK decide to follow this model, the impact on employment law is expected to be minimal.  Following the Swiss model would also require the UK to adhere to EU employment laws.