Leave or Remain? The Effect on our Employment Laws

So, you’ll have heard a lot about remaining in or leaving the EU, but what are the consequences for the UK’s employment laws?

In short, probably not a lot – at least not in the short term. 

Large swathes of employment law lie outside the EU’s remit. Even if the UK does vote to leave the EU, several entrenched and perceived ‘rights’ that have come from Europe would still be expected by UK employers – and as many have been transposed into employment contracts and policies it is very unlikely that employers will try to change them. These rights include:

  • Maternity entitlements
  • Protection from discrimination
  • Holiday entitlement
  • Rest breaks
  • Agency workers’ rights and
  • Data protection principles.

Unravelling rights derived from the EU would not only have serious repercussions for employee relations, but could also have consequences for contracts of employment. 

For example, many employees have clauses in their contracts related to protections originating from Europe on matters such as holiday pay and working hours. Leaving the EU and any consequent changes to employment law may mean changing employment contracts on a massive scale; if this were to be done without employee consent, it would involve terminating contracts then re-employing on the new terms. 

Should businesses tender for contracts with organisations within the EU, they may well require a minimum standard of terms and conditions and employment protections that the EU has provided.

So, whether we’re in or out, the likelihood of there being any significant changes to our existing employment laws in the foreseeable future is limited.   In other words, as the saying goes ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’!