What Now for UK Employment Law?

Although some time has now passed since the UK’s decision to leave the EU, we are somehow still left with more questions than answers. On the whole, there are many policies and laws all up for debate and this can be seen with employment law. As many trade unions were concerned about employment law pre-Brexit, will the fears of a drop in workers’ rights come true?

Very soon after the vote, David Davis attempted to ease worries by stating that there was no interest in cutting rights for ‘industrial working classes’ who voted for Brexit. However, this isn’t a promise that he can make. Theresa May, Prime Minister, has said that she will take action and push towards equality and executive pay and there is already evidence that she is making this happen.

Despite this, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that employment reforms that favour the businesses are likely. Here, we have listed the following reasons;

  • For many years, the Conservative government has leaned towards removing, or at least reducing, the red tape for employment. With Brexit occurring, this provides the perfect opportunity to go through with any plans.
  • Secondly, international investment will be harder to come by now that the UK isn’t in the EU. Over the next few years, the government will have to work hard in order to keep international investment but they only have limited tools. For example, corporate tax reductions is one and this has a direct cost to the public.
  • Finally, an economic downturn will put pressure on businesses and therefore the government. With some trade associations already calling for a change to the National Living Wage, this process has already begun.

Furthermore, we saw the Beecroft Report back in 2011 when the coalition government first came into power and many of these employment law suggestions took place. However, some were omitted – such as no-fault terminations and the removal of the retirement age – and this could be a good opportunity to bring these suggestions back which will worry millions of workers.

On the whole, there are suggestions that employment law will not change too much because businesses will still have to abide by EU employment regulations if we are to stay in the EEA. Although some discrimination laws are not included in this, the majority of what exists now will remain. Over time, we will learn exactly what happens but it seems as though the whole situation presents somewhat of a balancing act at the minute. With businesses putting pressure on the government, we could see the changes we have discussed but there would also be an incredible backlash from the public. Would the government keep removing important employment laws at the risk of this backlash with strikes and other action taking place?

Ultimately, this is a worrying time and many experts have noted their sadness that we seem to have taken a step backwards as we are finding solutions for problems we had already fixed.

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