What does Brexit mean for employers?

It's all over the country—the referendum results are in and the vote has been determined. As people gather to ask what happens next, there is a group of business owners who are wondering what they need to know about employment law, post-Brexit.

Early on Friday morning, our employment advice line, BrightGuru received calls from employers concerned about the impacts of the leave vote for EU staff. It’s good to announce then, that business owners have nothing to worry about for now.

The leave vote will not have an immediate impact on UK employment laws, as it is unlikely that any new non-EU laws will come into effect until probably 2018. That means that until a legal process has occurred, the existing laws still apply. Current UK laws that do not stem from the EU will not be impacted by the vote.

How will the laws change?

Now we are no longer governed by EU law, the government could decide to change laws once the exit is complete. Generally countries are given 2 years to agree their exit from the EU, meaning that it is unlikely that anything will change before 2018.

Once the EU exit is complete, the government will resume to a usual process of changing laws, which again will take some time through the usual parliamentary procedures.

What laws could change?

Just because the government is able to change laws as a result of this vote, it does not necessarily mean they will. In many cases, UK employment law already significantly exceed EU minimum.

Employment law in the following areas are governed but the EU so theoretically could be changed by the government, post-exit

  • Minimal leave entitlement
  • Minimum breaks and rest periods
  • Maternity/paternity/leave and parental leave
  • Discrimination
  • Equal treatment of agency workers
  • Rights upon transfer of an undertaking
  • Rights for part-time/fixed-term staff
  • Rights for employees to be informed and consulted over major changes to work

Laws on unfair dismissal and National/Minimum/Living wage did not stem from the EU laws so will be unaffected by the Leave vote.

Immigration issues have been a major part of the debate leading into the vote – what happens to EU workers who are working here now?

Nothing for now. EU workers may still continue to work in the UK as normal. Any changes to immigration law will probably only affect those who want to enter the UK after the exit actually happens (likely 2018). It is likely to be more difficult to employ anyone from the EU in the long term, but exactly what happens to those currently in the UK depends on the exact terms of the exit. If new laws require existing EU workers to gain permission to stay here, there is likely to be a long phase in period.

What should I do now?

Carry on. It's business as usual for Britain now. Details on the exit will be announced over some time, so for now, we need to wait and see how the government handles it. Remember, there will be no practical changes for some time. If you have any other questions or concerns, be sure to get in touch with our BrightGuru advisors who can offer confidential and trusted advice.


Image: courtesy of openeurope.org.uk - Moodles by Liz