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Could Brexit change the way in which we work?

Leaving the EU could have serious and far-reaching implications for the country’s employment law, experts are warning

Although it is still uncertain how long the process of leaving the EU will take, and its full impact on daily life in the UK is yet to be disclosed, what is certain is that there will be at least minor upheaval in certain aspect of workers’ rights and employers’ obligations.

Many people do not realise that a great number of Britain’s laws surrounding employment originated through our partnership with Europe. Many – such as discrimination laws – are now deeply enshrined in UK law and it is unlikely that the majority of these will be changed once our country leaves the EU; however, certain laws are likely to be changed significantly and a number of experts fear that some workers will lose out as a result of the Leave campaign’s success.

The biggest and most obvious change to UK employment law is likely to be linked to our country’s relationship with the EU job market. Already experts are fearing that once Brexit is put in place, it will be harder to employ people from European countries and more difficult for international firms to send workers on secondments to and from the UK and Europe.

The changes are also liable to have severe and potentially disastrous implications for European people currently employed in the UK, possibly even removing their rights to continue working.

One of the major aspects of employment law that is likely to see change is the Working Time Regulations (WTR), which determines how many hours a person can be expected to work. Once the law reverts to the British government, it is possible the WTR will be repealed, with some solicitors who deal with employment law cases already preparing for a rush of cases related to the issue.

It is also probable that there will be changes relating to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations (TUPE). TUPE is the aspect of law that deals with the transfer of workers’ rights when one business takes over another, preserving existing employees’ terms and conditions.

Although the chance of TUPE regulations being repealed completely is remote, businesses negotiating the transfer of workers while Brexit is in process should ensure they understand the possible implications.

Whatever happens during and after Brexit, what seems certain is that both workers and employers will have to be given time to adapt.

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