Brexit Update – Repeal Bill Confirms No Immediate Changes To Workers’ Rights

Turning another page on the lengthy Brexit saga, The Repeal Bill, otherwise known as the pithy ‘European Union (Withdrawal) Bill’, was published in July.

This weighty 66-page tome, confirmed that EU-derived legislation including the Working Time Directive, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and TUPE will continue to apply once the UK leaves the EU.

Until now, there has been confusion particularly around the GDPR. Though it was already expected that existing pieces of legislation would continue to apply, the GDPR is a work in progress and won’t commence until 25th May 2018. So the new developments mean that companies will definitely need to consider how they’ll manage employee data in compliance with the new rules and provisions.

Post Brexit, the employment law landscape could likely look quite different. UK courts will no longer be bound by any decisions made by the European Court of Justice, which means that they could choose to ignore key employment rights decisions made in EU countries in the future.

Of course, this is a move that has come under scrutiny, with many speculating about what this could potentially mean for workers’ rights here in the UK.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said the move was a ‘Downing Street power grab that puts workers’ rights at risk’. She went on to comment, ‘There is nothing in this Bill to stop politicians shredding or watering down our rights in the future. Nobody voted for Brexit to make life harder for working people. That’s why any deal with the EU must ensure that workers’ rights in Britain don’t fall behind the rest of Europe’.

But Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, insists:

The Repeal Bill will ensure that the workers’ rights that are enjoyed under EU law will continue to be available in UK law after we have left the EU. This includes rights derived from EU law, such as the Working Time Directive and the Agency Workers’ Directive. This will give certainty and continuity to employees and employers alike, creating stability in which the UK can grow and thrive.

So, maybe we shouldn’t prematurely panic?  We already know that in a number of areas, UK employment law already goes further than the minimum standards set out in EU legislation.

There are still more questions than answers when it comes to how the world of employment will look once the Brexit process is finalised, but it looks like the pieces of the puzzle are starting to come together. With the Repeal Bill due to be debated this Autumn after MP’s return from Summer Recess, I will bring you more details as soon as they become available.

In the meantime, if you have queries or concerns about how to ensure that you’re compliant with GDPR, or you’re worried about how to handle the changes that result from Brexit, get in touch today to arrange your initial no-obligation consultation. Having an HR consultant on your side can take away the stress of getting ready for the future.