Prepare – don’t panic

Employment law is just one area where businesses may be aff ected post-Brexit. Paul Holcroft, head of operations at consultants Croner explains what employers need to know.

Whatever you see, read or hear, all of the impacts we are feeling now from the Brexit vote are caused by our reaction to the prospect of Brexit, not Brexit per se. Never was the instruction “Don’t Panic!” more apt. Remember, nothing has changed within UK employment law.

There will be impacts, ramifications from the vote and the operation of Article 50 in due course, so we have time to plan and time to act. The process is expected to take at least two years. Planning now and acting in a timely manner, partnered by Croner, will ensure your organisation’s smooth transition, whatever the shape of ‘Commerce UK’ outside of the EU.

EU workers in the UK The two million EU workers in the UK will continue to work freely until exit, and while the exact terms of the exit are not yet known, the Home Office has stated that it expects the rights of these workers to be “properly protected”. There is speculation that restrictions may apply to new EU recruits before, as well as after exit, but the important word there is ‘speculation’. There may be new rules which apply to existing EU workers and if that is the case, Croner will be your guiding hand for the preparation and the process. The key is to ensure that your employment documentation is up to date, legally compliant and easily accessible.

UK law

Working time, agency workers, redundancy, family friendly leave, TUPE and equality are areas of UK law which stem from the EU. Other areas, including the national minimum/living wage laws are entirely domestic, as are unfair dismissal, flexible working and emergency time off for dependents. 

It is possible that after exit, some of the EU derived laws may be amended or repealed, as may areas of case law, which have been handed down from Europe. Recent case law which could be looked at is the Lock v British Gas (Bear Scotland) case regarding the inclusion of overtime and commission payments in holiday pay and the Pereda case, which sets out rules for workers who fall ill during pre-arranged holiday.

What should we be doing now?

Employers should ensure that all of the employment arrangements with their EU workforce is formalised. While doing so, make sure all documentation is up to date and legally compliant for both your employees from the EU and those from GB as well. Please also be aware that during this time, foreign workers may bear the full weight of frustrations and prejudices from the rest of the workforce so employers need to especially aware. 

Discrimination laws will remain unchanged throughout Brexit, (and are likely to remain in some form after exit) and presently, claims for discrimination made through employment tribunals are uncapped. If there is one thing that will help you through this, it’s getting Croner onboard to help and guide you. For more advice on employment, contact Croner’s free advice line on 08445 618135, scheme number 81685.

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