The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill is a proposal to amend the laws that were retained by the UK after leaving the EU. The bill had its third reading in Parliament on 18th January 2023, and will now go to the house of Lords for consideration.
The impact of the bill on UK employment law will largely depend on the specific provisions of the bill, which are not yet known. However, it is thought that the bill will lead to substantial changes in Employment Law.
What does the Revocation and Reform Bill set out to do.
Following the UK’s departure from the EU, it became clear that separating EU from UK law would not be a straightforward task. Consequently ‘Retained EU Law’ was created, which is a form of UK Domestic Law, which enabled the UK to continue with the existing laws in place to ensure continuity and legal certainty following Brexit.
The UK is now able to remove any ‘Retained EU Law’, however given there are reportedly 50,000 EU Laws which have been introduced in the UK since 1990, there is a need for either new legislation or a court decision to tackle the issue of ‘Retained EU Law’.
The Revocation and Reform bill aims to provide greater clarity and certainty about which EU-derived laws will continue to apply in the UK, as well as to remove or amend any laws that are no longer relevant or appropriate.
There are specific areas of Retained EU Law which the ‘sunset provisions will apply to. The Sunset provisions are a deadline in which the law will expire if it is not replace or reinstated this deadline is December 2023. There is however potential to extend this deadline until June 2026.
The areas of UK employment law which may be affected by the bill include:
Working time regulations: The UK’s Working Time Regulations are derived from EU law and could be subject to reform or repeal under the bill. This could potentially affect the amount of leave and rest breaks that workers are entitled to.
Discrimination law: EU law has played a significant role in shaping UK discrimination law, particularly in relation to protected characteristics such as age, disability, and sexual orientation. The bill could lead to changes in this area of law, although the UK government has stated that it does not intend to reduce the level of protection against discrimination.
Agency workers: The UK’s Agency Workers Regulations, which implement an EU Directive, could be affected. This could impact the rights of agency workers, such as their entitlement to equal treatment with permanent employees.
TUPE: TUPE is more likely to be revised (perhaps to make post-transfer contract variations easier) than it is to be removed due to the potential implications removal could cause
The removal of the supremacy of EU law in the UK, also means that directly effective EU rights will no longer apply in the UK. There is concern that the removal of this supremacy may lead to:
- Increased litigation to address previously settled disputes or to resolve the uncertainties arising from the changes.
- Employment laws being removed, updated, or replaced quickly without thorough consideration and understanding of their implications.
- The removal of important employment rights.
Overall, the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill is likely to have significant impact on UK employment law, although the precise extent of this will depend on the specific provisions of the bill and any subsequent changes to UK law that are made as a result.
Frustratingly, this Bill has currently only proven to create a level of uncertainty. Employers need to prepare themselves for potentially extensive changes that may come into play at the end of the year, with little notice. It will be important for businesses and individuals to closely monitor the progress of the bill and any subsequent changes to UK employment law.
If you are worried about how the imminent changes will impact your workplace, you can get in touch with the Glaisyers Employment Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more employment law updates, check out our other articles!