Employment and Protection Rights

Many employment protections we now take for granted were founded on EU law – including:

After Brexit, the UK will no longer be compelled to comply with EU law. This means safeguards such as these will no longer be guaranteed – successive Governments will be free to change them as they see fit.

Under the proposed Withdrawal Bill from the EU, the Government would be entitled to so-called ‘Henry VIII Powers’. These are designed to enable the Government to amend or remove any EU law which has been transferred into UK law without the normal legal process and scrutiny of Parliament and MPs.  

 Employees’ and workers’ rights could be diluted after Brexit. For example, to conform with a Government’s political agenda or if businesses and organisations succeed in lobbying the Government – perhaps if their profit margins are squeezed as a result of an economic downturn or increased administrative or tariff burdens.

Some commentators believe the Government is already planning to do away with the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE), which contain important protections for outsourced workers and those affected by business buy-outs and takeovers. For example, TUPE puts a duty on employers to ensure that employees’ contractual entitlements transfer to a new employer, and that continuity of employment is preserved. Removing TUPE could reduce regulations and encourage investment in the UK – but it also risks putting profit before people.

For some, a vote to leave the UK was a chance to reduce protections and rights – ‘a bonfire of regulation’ – but did everyone vote to have their rights and protections diminished?