The Government Abandons the Brexit Gunpowder Plot: What Does This Mean for Employers?

Plans for a big Brexit bonfire have been scrapped after the government has second thoughts. In 2022, the government introduced a new Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill which aimed to completely “burn” all EU laws by the end of 2023 unless the government specifically assimilated them into UK law.

This rather reckless decision has (luckily for most) been stopped and the bonfire finally put out before it caused severe damage. The government recognised that as they began to go through all the EU laws intertwined in the UK legal system, the task became more about “reducing legal risk by preserving EU laws than prioritising meaningful reform.

It was announced that around 1,000 EU laws have been revoked or reformed since Brexit and now only 600 EU laws will be revoked directly through the REUL Bill, instead of the original 4,000 or more proposed in 2022. This means that the bonfire will become more of a flickering flame thanks to the sudden change of heart.

How Does This Affect Employment Law?

Abandoning the sunset clause is welcome news to many businesses as it was causing a lot of uncertainty as to which laws would be kept or scrapped by the end of the year. There were also concerns that revoking well-ingrained EU laws would leave big gaps in legislation. The government has now announced which employment laws will be removed, including the following:

  • The Community Drivers’ Hours and Working Time (Road Tankers) (Temporary Exception) (Amendment) Regulations 2006
  • The Posted Workers (Enforcement of Employment Rights) Regulations 2016
  • The Posted Workers (AgencyWorkers) Regulations 2020

Plans are in place to reform the following existing EU- employment laws:

Work Time Regulations Reporting

The government proposes to remove the requirements on businesses to keep working hour records for members of the workforce. In addition, a “rolled-up holiday pay” will be put in place so that workers can benefit from their holiday pay entitlements in every payslip and merge basic leave and additional leave into one pot of statutory annual leave.

Business Transfers (TUPE)

Under the current law, businesses can’t consult employees directly about TUPE arrangements when there is no employee representative. The government plans to get rid of this requirement in cases where a company has less than 50 people and the transfer is expected to affect fewer than 10 employees. This means that businesses will be able to communicate directly with the affected employees saving time and cutting out unnecessary red tape.

Non-Compete Clauses

Non-compete clauses protect businesses by restricting employees from establishing or working for competing companies. However, this can stop employees from finding better roles and restrict competitors from innovating and growing. As such, non-compete clauses will be reduced to 3 months, allowing employees to find new work after this period.

We await further information about when these proposed changes will come into effect. 

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