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What Does the New Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill Mean for Workers' Rights?

on Friday, 10 January 2020.

Since the election in December, the government has re-introduced the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill with some changes to workers' rights.

In this article we highlight the key proposed changes.

The Previous Bill

A large part of UK employment law is derived from EU law, such as working time, holiday pay, maternity rights and discrimination. Under the previous Withdrawal Bill in October 2019, the government provided clauses to safeguard these workers' rights.

These safeguards would have meant that in order to make changes to established workers' rights the government would have a duty to:

  • consult unions and businesses about the impact of the changes
  • formally state whether the changes would reduce workers' retained EU rights
  • report regularly on any new workers' rights adopted by the EU, stating whether the UK law reflects these rights and if not, any planned steps to keep pace with the new EU rights

The Re-Introduced Bill

The new Bill has removed these safeguard clauses. Instead, the government has announced that it will be including clauses on protecting and enhancing workers' rights in a separate and forthcoming Employment Bill.

Details of when this Employment Bill will be introduced, and how it will protect workers' rights have not been provided. The government has stated that the purpose of removing these clauses was to speed up the progress of the Bill.

Any Other Changes?

The Withdrawal Agreement now gives the government the power to specify that certain courts and tribunals would not be bound by European Court of Justice cases, or by existing domestic case law on EU-derived rights. This could potentially give employment tribunals more freedom to override European decisions.

We will report any further changes or proposals for the new Employment Bill as they are released over the coming months.

To find out how this Bill affects your business, please contact Michael Halsey in our Employment Law team on 020 7665 0842 or complete the form below.