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‘No-deal’ Brexit will still be a good deal for workers

Employees Working

Guidelines released by the government show that protection of workers and the legal responsibilities of employers to their staff are set to remain…

The looming spectre of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit is breeding an atmosphere of uncertainty across the UK – whether you are a home owner, business owner or someone who has to deal with HR issues and workers’ rights.

March 29, 2019 will see the EU leave the UK – and if the increasingly likely-looking ‘no-deal’ happens, the government has released guidelines on what the legal implications might be.

Workers’ Rights

The good news is that the government has already confirmed that there will be no alterations to current rights for workers of their protection – this is all covered in the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which translates EU legislation into UK law. Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, told a recent press conference that domestic law already exceeds the EU when it comes to these matters, and that existing EU provisions would be transferred into UK legislation after Brexit.

What could be a risk in the longer term is the fact that, because these rights will simply be under UK rather than EU law, Parliament could at any time choose to scrap them and there would be no redress to the EU Court of Human Rights.

EU Citizens

If you’re a European Union (EU) citizen, you and your family will be able to apply to get either ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ status. This will mean you can continue living in the UK after December 2020.

The application fee will be £65 for adults and £32.50 for children. The application process will be phased and is intended to be fully operational by March 2019. There will be a grace period until 30 June 2021 for EU nationals to apply for either status.

Two useful articles on this include An employer’s guide to preparing for Brexit [People Management: An employer’s guide to preparing for Brexit, 3 Sep 2018] and, on the Gov.co.uk website here [GOV.UK: Settled and pre-settled status for EU citizens and their families].

European Councils

One group that may be affected are European works councils, which represent the European employees at a company or organisation. However, the document states that UK regulations will be altered to enable new requests for a works council to be set up and to allow existing ones to continue.

If your company has European Works Councils and trades unions that are parties to European Works Council agreements, you may need to review your agreements as there will no longer be reciprocal arrangements between the UK and the EU.

Insolvency

Another change relates to employer insolvency. Should an employer go into insolvency, employees will still be protected under the Employment Rights Act 1996 and Pension Schemes Act 1993 implementing the Insolvency Directive [EUR-Lex: Document 32008L0094] or relevant legislation in Northern Ireland.

However, UK and EU employees who work in an EU country for a UK employer may be at risk. It is possible that they will be covered under the national guarantee fund in that country, but that is not a given at this stage.

Finally, should we leave the EU without a deal, the UK would also no longer have access to the European Single Market. This would mean companies would have to make customs declarations on all EU trade, and you may need to employ customs brokers or warehousing. This could be pricey, especially for smaller businesses, so if this applies to your organisation it would be worth becoming familiar with existing guidelines for importing and exporting outside of the UK.

Read the full guidance document from the Government here [GOV.UK: Workplace rights if there’s no Brexit deal].

If you would like to discuss any issues relating to your HR provision and Brexit, and how it may affect your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.

T: 01296 769 282 or contact us here.

Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.