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How Would 'Brexit' Affect UK Employment Law

On Thursday 23rd June 2016, the referendum to decide whether Britain should leave or remain the EU will be held.

We have heard from politicians and the media as to what Britain will look like if it, does, in fact, decide to stay or, equally if it chooses to go, and one such area is employment law.

30 May 2016
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There are a number of key areas within employment law that must be considered and may well be affected once Brexit occurs and so it’s vital that employers prepare for these in advance by understanding what they are.


  1. Employment Legislation Implications

Current legislation closely relates to EU legislation, particularly in the areas of equality, working hours and holiday entitlement.


  • At present, there are a number of legislative protections in EU legislation that already existed in UK law. These were codified by EU laws to reflect UK laws on equal pay and discriminatory practices, noted in Equality Act 2010. As these are already protected, it is unlikely that any changes will be made here.

  • The implications that 'Brexit' would have on business and employers are thought to cause the largest amount of confusion. Wide-reaching costs are likely to ensue too, resulting from gaining clarification, seeking the expertise of solicitors and ensuring any changes are adhered to.


Workers have received a number of benefits through being supported by EU legislation, namely the working hours set out in the Working Time Directive, and the family rights enforced by The Parental Leave (EU Directive) Regulations 2013.


2. Trade and Contracts

If we do decide to leave the EU, then this consequently, may have a significant impact on your business if you rely on the trade agreements to transport goods and services overseas throughout Europe.

If Britain does leave the EU, it is likely that new trade agreements will need to be drawn up and may well indicate the minimum requirements placed on Britain in relation to the EU to ensure clear and fair trade

3. Courts

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom was established in Part 3 of Constitutional Reform Act 2005 and started operating in 2009. It is the UK’s highest court of appeal and so, it is likely that if we do exit the EU, the Supreme Court along with the other UK courts will decide cases relating to UK law.

As the nature of the justice system is that it must apportion a reasonable amount of time and resources to each case heard, it is possible that the UK courts will consider the decision from the UK to be persuasive in the short-term, at the very least, to help set precedents. In the longer-term, however, the UK may then exercise complete independence and reject the ideas and decisions set forward by the EU.  

Next Steps

If on the 23rd June, British voters choose to opt out of the EU, then the UK must provide 2 years’ notice. It is, therefore, unlikely that we will see any dramatic and sudden changes immediately. This time, will be used to ensure that we have new trade agreements in place, considered and removed legislative loopholes and are aware of the impact that pre-existing decisions by the EU will have on UK law.

Further Information

If you would like more information on any aspect of employment law including the implications of the EU referendum, then contact Guillaumes employment solicitors today on 01932 840111.