The Queen’s speech and the European Union
The Queen’s speech on 27 May mentioned the government’s proposals for the EU Referendum Bill which includes changing the UK’s relationship with the European Union (“EU”) and the referendum as to whether the UK should still be a member of the EU.
The government has stated that the public vote will take place by 2017 at the latest.
So what does this mean for employment law? If the majority of the public vote to leave the EU then this has the potential of adversely affecting the laws relating to discrimination, holidays, treatment of agency workers and business transfers.
In theory, they could all be thrown out if the government decides to take a more severe approach and repeal The European Communities Act 1972. This Act allows the government to implement secondary legislation to incorporate EU laws into the UK. If this act goes, then potentially so could all of the secondary legislation. This is highly unlikely to happen but not impossible.
Here are some examples of areas which could be affected:
If the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 no longer have to be followed then employees would lose the protection now provided in relation to the terms of their contract upon a relevant transfer or from being unfairly dismissed as a result of the transfer.
HOLIDAYS AND WORKING TIME
If the European Working Time Directive no longer had to be followed then it is likely that many employers would want to remove the maximum limit of 48 hours per working week and the related record keeping obligations.
If the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 no longer have to be followed then agency workers with 12 weeks’ or more continuous service may be at risk of losing basic working and employment conditions relating to pay, working time, breaks and holidays.
Even if Britain was to leave the EU they would still wish to benefit from the trade and economic benefits they currently have with the rest of Europe. It is therefore likely that Britain will end up retaining and continuing to integrate EU laws within its legal system for years to come.