While there has been much speculation about what the impact of an EU exit will be on UK employment law, the new Brexit secretary has promised that there will be no changes when the UK does leave the European Union.
Brexit supporters had suggested that leaving the EU would free the UK of restrictive EU rules and regulations, while the Remain camp had argued that an EU exit would result in a loss of worker’s rights.
But following David Davis’ appointment as Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, he said: “Regulation already in place will stay for the moment, but the flood of new regulation from Europe will be halted”.
He added that although there will be some areas of EU regulation that will affect the UK being able to compete on a global market, employment directives will not experience any significant reform.
Mr Davis said: “I am not talking here about employment regulation. All the empirical studies show that it is not employment regulation that stultifies economic growth, but all the other market-related regulations, many of them wholly unnecessary.
“Britain has a relatively flexible workforce, and so long as the employment law environment stays reasonably stable it should not be a problem for business.”
He also added: “There is also a political, or perhaps sentimental point. The great British industrial working classes voted overwhelmingly for Brexit. I am not at all attracted by the idea of rewarding them by cutting their rights.”
Mr Davis has said he would like to activate Article 50 and start the process of the UK formally leaving the EU, before the end of this year. But Prime Minister Theresa May has indicated that it may not happen until after the Government has agreed better trade deals.
Although it will be quite a while before we see and feel any significant impact of a Brexit, it would be unlikely that the government will completely scrap any UK employment laws that have come out of the EU. It is more likely that there will be minor tweaks and amendments rather than big, significant changes.
In reality, most of the laws and regulations which originally came from the EU are actually universally accepted standards of employment and modern society.
UK employment law already goes further than what is required by the EU in a number of areas like holiday entitlement. There is no doubt that the UK will continue its commitment to enforce the law on discrimination in the workplace and to work on ensuring that workers receive minimum entitlements such as family-friendly rights, sick leave and holidays.