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What Brexit means for employment law in the UK

employees are right to question what the country's eventual departure from the EU will mean for employment legislation

With June’s referendum result to leave the EU still a hot topic of conversation, UK-based businesses and employees are right to question what the country’s eventual departure from the EU will mean for employment legislation.

Much of the UK’s employment law currently comes from the EU. Issues such as family rights, anti-discrimination laws and rules surrounding agency workers are all laws set down in the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Although it is impossible to determine how many – or how few – of these laws the country will uphold at this stage, it is important to note that technically the government is now free to break away and create its own – such is the nature of our departure from the EU.

That said, it is highly unlikely that all legislation will be thrown out or dramatically changed. Employment protection laws are in the place in the country and it could be that the UK seeks to uphold the existing legislation in a bid to negotiate a healthy relationship with the EU as a non-member still wanting to trade without barriers; however, this does not mean that small tweaks and changes designed to benefit the UK economy will not be brought in somewhere along the line.

One key area in question is that of the free movement of EU nationals who want to live and work in the country. Immigration is always a contentious topic but economy experts warn that putting an end to free movement will create issues with recruitment in lower-paid sectors, such as agriculture, and it is therefore likely that a points-based system may be introduced to ensure that those looking to work here have the right skill set to fill the required vacancies.

Areas such as agency and TUPE laws could be in for an overhaul, which many will welcome, but issues relating to discrimination and family rights are unlikely to change. Politics aside, the country has a fairly agreeable moral outlook surrounding these areas. Paid leave entitlement may remain unchanged but certain unpopular rules within leave policies could be set for a change, such as being able to accrue holiday pay while on long-term sick leave.

Ideally any changes that are brought in will uphold the legislation that protects businesses and workers and will instead target the laws that are deemed unfair or unpopular. This would, after all, be a positive outcome for all involved.

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