Last week, the UK government announced what has been hailed as a u-turn in confirming that it was abandoning the sunset provisions in the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill.
As the Bill is currently drafted, almost all retained EU law would automatically be revoked at the end of 2023 (unless expressly retained by a statutory instrument). However, the effect of the Bill is now reversed, and all EU legislation will continue in force unless specifically revoked.
This move gives greater certainty and is likely to be welcomed. However, the provisions of the Bill will still end the supremacy of EU law, and the principle of direct effect will end by 31 December 2023. So, from January 2024, employers and employees alike will no longer be able to predict how rules relating to legislation will be interpreted.
The government’s policy paper “Smarter Regulation to Grow the Economy” (part of its efforts to “reduce burdens, push down the cost of living and drive economic growth”) proposes changes to two pieces of employment-related EU-derived law:
- Working Time Regulations 1998 – the policy paper states that the government will be consulting on removing the requirement for businesses to record the numbers of hours worked by employees to ensure they do not exceed the 48 hour per week limit. In addition, the government is proposing to merge the current 20 days’ annual leave granted by the Working Time Directive with the additional 8 days granted in the UK under the Working Time Regulations, to create one single right to annual leave. Also, to reduce the administrative burden of calculating holiday pay, new proposals would permit rolled-up holiday pay, so that workers can receive a proportion of their holiday pay with every payslip; and
- The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 – the government has said it will remove the current obligation on businesses to consult with employee representatives in a TUPE situation, where those businesses have fewer than 50 employees and where there will be a transfer of less than 10 employees (a similar exemption already applies to microbusinesses, ie those with fewer than 10 employees).
This provides some certainty on the post-Brexit landscape, but everyone will be watching carefully for future developments.
If you wish to discuss this further, or if you have any other employment law enquiries, please contact Rebecca Ellerbeck of Rowberrys on 01344 959166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.