Retained EU Law Bill: will your employee’s working rights change?

James Potts - Legal Services Director

November 14 2022

Most of the UK’s EU-derived laws are set to automatically expire at the end of 2023. So, current employment rights are at risk of getting the axe unless the government creates new UK laws to keep them or take their place.

This leaves the future of employment law in turmoil. We don’t yet know what will happen, but we do know the existing framework of employment rights - like the 48-hour maximum working week and the minimum paid annual leave - could all be set to change.

To find out how this could affect you and your workforce, here’s what you need to know about the update…

What is the Retained EU Law Bill?

Now the UK has left the EU, the government has introduced the ‘Retained EU Law Bill’. A retained EU law is essentially a copy of the EU law that the UK followed as a member of the EU. This bill means all existing EU laws will expire by a certain date unless the government takes steps to keep or change them.

This deadline (also known as a sunset clause) is 31st December 2023. So, if the government hasn’t taken action to keep an affected law by this date, it will automatically expire.

What’s likely to change?

Currently, the laws that seem most likely to change are:

  • TUPE (protection of employment when a business transfers or there’s a change in service provisions)
  • Working Time Regulations (including the 48-hour maximum working week, minimum rest periods, and paid leave entitlements)
  • Agency Worker, Fixed-Term, and Part-Time Worker regulations (giving basic rights to agency workers and those who work on a fixed-term or part-time basis)

Who is this most likely to affect?

UNISON’s head of legal services Shantha David says working women are most at risk if EU laws expire.

This is because they may lose out on maternity protections. They may also be doubly affected if they have part-time and fixed-term roles.

So, what do I need to do to prepare?

Whilst we don’t yet know what the changes will be, it’s still important to stay updated as the bill passes through Parliament. Because when the time comes, your documentation will need to line up with the new legislation or you’ll be at legal risk.

It might be the case that for any new rules that come in, your contractual clauses make it difficult to make the necessary changes for existing staff. Whatever happens, you’ll need to review your current policies and contracts. But don’t worry, your adviser will make sure you’re safe from risk.

For advice on how to navigate important legal updates, call us today. And if you’re not yet a Peninsula client, call 0800 028 2420 for a free consultation with a HR expert.

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