In what is likely to be the most significant political decision in a generation, the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union by a margin of 3.8%. What will it mean for employment law in the UK?
In the immediate short term, nothing will change. The withdrawal negotiations are likely to take years, with the status quo largely expected to remain intact during this period. Under the Treaty on European Union, the process for withdrawal can take a maximum of two years, and due to the complexity of the break, it is possible that even this deadline will be exceeded.
What happens following the exit is uncertain at this stage, but will turn on the type of relationship that the UK has with the EU following our withdrawal. In some instances UK employment law exceeds the minimum standards expected of EU employment law (such as maternity rights); in these areas it is unlikely any change will occur.
In areas where EU law forms the backbone of our national employment legislation, it is more likely that the government will tweak legislation, rather than overhauling it completely. Workers’ protection afforded by TUPE and the Working Time Regulations, for example, has become the norm in UK employment law, and it would be controversial if the government sought to remove such rights completely.