At the beginning of this year, the Financial Times reported that some worker protections and rules, that have been implemented by EU Directives and Regulations are to be amended and these include: the 48 hour limit on the working week, rules on rest breaks, and the inclusion of overtime pay in holiday pay calculations. This prompted the Business Secretary, Kwisi Kwarteng to confirm that the Government is currently looking at worker rights and it is not their intention to have a “bonfire of rights”.
As we are all well aware one of the main pillars of Brexit was that the UK would, on leaving the EU be able to make its own decisions and laws. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 repeals the European Communities Act 1972, which brought the UK into the European Union and gave primacy to EU laws. The 2018 Act retains all EU law that was in effect and applicable before exit day on 31st December 2020. Therefore all EU law that was in effect prior to the end of the transitional period still remains effective and good law within the United Kingdom until specifically repealed by the Government.
Whilst the government denies that UK worker rights and employment rules would be curtailed to any detriment, the Business Secretary confirmed further that the Government is looking at safeguarding employment rights. It remains to be seen in the coming months and years what EU rights will be retained or amended by successive Governments. Undoubtedly at this difficult time due to the global pandemic COVID-19, amending rights that have been in place for many years will not necessary be high on the Governments agenda.
Once COVID-19 has abated and confined to history (which the write notes cannot come quick enough) the Government, with their new found freedom will more than likely look at all EU employment rights that have been implement and in particular the EU Directives that have in the past, caused the greatest argument and debate like, TUPE, the Fixed-Term Workers Directive and the Framework Health and Safety Directive.
We will continue to monitor for any Government proposals to change employment rights and rules for both businesses and employees, but as we have now left the European Union employment law looks like it is under review.
This blog was written by: Michael Dobson
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