No deal – what does it mean for employees?

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The Government yesterday published a guidance document titled ‘Workplace rights if there’s no Brexit deal’  which says there will be no change to workers’ rights and protections in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.  The TUC has been campaigning hard against a no-deal scenario, saying it could destroy the jobs that people rely on – and have a knock-on effect for the whole economy. It is also worried about employment rights, not just in the transition period, but beyond, fearing that employment laws could be watered down in subsequent years. Here Paul Holcroft highlights some of the issues for employers and employees raised by yesterday’s papers.

What do the no-deal Brexit papers mean for employers and employees?

The papers highlight that a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario is likely to result in a period of uncertainty and disruption for businesses and that it is highly advisable for employers to evaluate the effect this would have on their business and prepare for such an eventuality.

A key point to take from this is the confirmation that existing worker rights, such as laws on working time and family leave entitlements, will largely stay the same, with UK legislation in this area already exceeding EU provisions. Any amendments to the law will be made only to reflect the fact that the UK is no longer an EU nation, but will not change existing policy.

UK-based workers will also still be protected by existing provisions for employer insolvency, allowing them to claim redundancy-related payments. However, it should be noted that workers within the EU who work for a UK-based employee may not always be protected under the national guarantee fund established in that member state as there are variations in how each county has implemented this.

Employers should also bear in mind that a ‘no deal’ scenario does cast doubt over existing arrangements with European Works Councils as the statutory framework would require a separate reciprocal arrangement between the UK and the EU to continue. The government has outlined that whilst no new requests for a Council will be able to be made in the event of a ‘no deal’ outcome, provisions for ongoing operations will remain in force. Despite this, employers would be wise to review any existing agreements.

As the UK would no longer have access to the European Single Market, businesses would also be required to submit customs declarations on all EU trade, which may require the employment of customs brokers or warehousing. As this could be a costly exercise for smaller businesses it would therefore be wise for business owners to familiarise themselves with existing guidance for importing and exporting outside of the EU.

*Paul Holcroft is Associate Director of employment law and HR experts Croner.

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