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The role of EU employment law in Post-Brexit Britain – House of Commons Briefing Paper

Following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, some have wondered about the future role of EU law within the UK. The House of Commons Library has however recently produced a concise briefing paper detailing the UK government’s current views on the matter.

The paper highlights how currently a substantial component of UK employment legislation is grounded in EU law. A number of such laws are enshrined in primary legislation (acts of Parliament such as the Equality Act 2010) and secondary legislation (additional laws implemented by government ministers without the need to be passed by Parliament). Subject to the provisions of any trade agreements, a post-Brexit government would be free to amend any of these laws.

In addition any EU employment rights currently applicable in the UK but not contained within UK primary or secondary legislation (such as the right to equal pay) might also automatically cease to apply upon exit from the EU. Only those saved by domestic legislation or any new international obligations would continue to have relevance within the UK. Post-Brexit, UK courts would also no longer be required to follow existing and future European Court of Justice decisions and may merely regard them as having persuasive force.

Nevertheless in spite of the above, the government has committed to protecting workers’ rights within the UK. In the briefing paper the Prime Minister Theresa May is quoted as stating:

Let me be absolutely clear: existing workers’ legal rights will continue to be guaranteed in law – and they will be guaranteed as long as I am Prime Minister.’

How far workers’ rights will be protected post-Brexit will remain to be seen and we will continue to provide further updates on the issue.

If you have any queries on the effect of Brexit on UK employment law please get in touch. 

The full briefing paper can be viewed here. 


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Katherine Maxwell

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