Workers’ rights post-Brexit: what will happen?

What happens to workers’ rights in a post-Brexit Britain? This is one of the biggest questions ahead of the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020.


What happens to workers’ rights in a post-Brexit Britain? This is one of the biggest questions ahead of the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020.

The good news is that, deal or no deal, the legal rights of both UK and EU employees in this country will not change from January 1, 2021. However, there will be some adjustments which will affect recruitment businesses and workers.

Let’s take a look at what will happen to workers’ rights post-Brexit…

Will all EU employment rules end on January 1?

Although much of our employment law comes from the EU, there is also plenty which was already covered by UK courts before we joined the European Community.

In a post-Brexit Britain, the likelihood is that most of the EU laws will simply be incorporated into UK legislation, so things will carry on as normal. There will be no changes to things like family leave and working time regulations. The rules surrounding equal pay and equality in the workplace are all covered by UK law, as is maternity leave.

You will be pleased to learn that in some areas, UK law is more generous than EU regulations. For example, Britain offers more statutory annual leave and maternity/paternity leave than the EU.

That said, there will be some changes, for example:

  • Support for UK employees working in the EU on employer insolvency
  • Membership of European Works Councils.

Over time all the EU legislation will be reviewed by the UK lawmakers, so there will probably be a raft of adjustments over the coming months and years.

How will EU workers in the UK be affected?

All EU nationals currently in UK-based employment are being urged to sign up to the EU Settlement Scheme. For those who meet the stated criteria the deadline is June 30, 2021. However, if Britain leaves the transition period without a deal, the deadline will be brought forward to December 31, 2020.

The UK Government has committed to protecting workers’ rights, both for EU nationals in the UK and for British workers on the continent.

Which courts will decide employment law?

According to the announced post-Brexit arrangements, the UK Supreme Court and High Court are no longer bound by any EU case law that was decided before the end of the transition period.

Going forward, under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the power to depart from EU case law will be extended to the relevant Courts of Appeal across the UK. In theory, the legal process should be simpler as the European Court of Justice can no longer override the UK courts.

Want can you do?

The key thing is to be prepared for any changes and to keep abreast of the situation as the UK exits the transition period. We will be providing regular content over the coming weeks and months to keep you updated as the situation unfolds.

If you have any questions surrounding workers’ rights post-Brexit, our Recruitment Accountants team are always on hand to help. We are specialist accountants who offer recruitment and employment businesses dedicated expertise in areas such as accounting, finance, taxation and business growth.

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