Several of the UK’s employment laws come from the EU including family leave, Working Time Regulations, discrimination rights and the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations.  The UK is currently required to implement EU law.  However, there are also employment laws that have nothing to do with EU law including the right to make a flexible working request, national minimum wage and unfair dismissal.  The UK also implements more generous rights than the minimum EU law in some cases.  By way of example, UK law allows a worker 28 days paid holiday compared to 20 days under EU law.

There is no certainty on what the impact of Brexit will have on employment laws but points to note are as follows:

  • Freedom of movement – Currently, there are significant numbers of EU citizens that are able to live and work in the UK without the need for visas or permits and UK nationals living and working in other EU countries. The terms of any future trade agreements will determine whether the right of free movement will continue to exist or be restricted.  It would not appear to be in anybody’s interests to require workers to return to their country of origin.  It seems likely that the UK government will come to an agreement whereby existing UK migrants stay (at least for a reasonable period of time) in exchange for permission for UK citizens in EU countries remaining there for a period.


  • Discrimination Law – It is unlikely that these laws will alter given that employers are not going to want to argue that they should be free to discriminate on any of the protected grounds including sex, age, race and disability. There has been a suggestion however that a cap could be imposed on any compensation awarded to a successful claimant similar to the statutory cap that applies in unfair dismissal compensation awards.


  • TUPE – TUPE gives protection to employees in the event of an asset transfer or outsourcing and is usually considered to be in the interest of employees. However, businesses find it particularly difficult to harmonise employees’ terms and conditions after a transfer takes place.  There could be small changes to make it more business friendly including the possibility of making it easier for employers to harmonise terms of employment following a TUPE transfer.  It is unlikely that any significant changes will be made following Brexit.


  • Holidays and Working Time – The right to statutory paid holiday has been integrated and is accepted as a fundamental right so it would be very controversial if there was a proposal to remove the right. However, there have been a number of unpopular recent judgments in the eyes of employers made by the ECJ concerning holiday pay including that it should be calculated by reference to all aspects of remuneration and not just basic pay and the right to accrue holiday during sickness absence.  After Brexit, the government may wish to retain the right to holiday pay but restrict this to basic pay and limit the rights to carry over holiday entitlement into further holiday years whilst a worker is on sick leave which would make the laws less onerous on employers.


  • Agency workers – The Agency Worker Regulations 2010 are complicated and have not been welcomed by employers. Consideration may be given to their removal.


  • Parental leave and pay – The rights to family-related leave in the UK are a mixture of rights from the UK and EU. The right to flexible working and shared parental leave come from UK law and it seems unlikely that these laws will be repealed or made to be more employer friendly.


If you are an employer or an employee with concerns about where you or your business will stand when the UK leaves the European Union, speak to one of the employment law experts at Farleys Solicitors on 0845 287 0939 or complete our online contact form.