Much has been made in the media about Brexit and the changes this will mean for employers. However change is a constant for both employers and employment lawyers, whether we are in Europe or not. It will take some time, nobody knows how long, for this country to extricate itself from its membership of the European Union. During this time we are still bound by the treaty provisions and I do not anticipate any changes to employment law due to Brexit. Further, although there may be some tinkering around the edges, I do not see any substantial changes to the employment rights for employees as a result of Brexit.
One example is the entitlement to paid holiday which originates from a European Directive. I doubt that the Government will change the statutory requirement to give employees 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year, inclusive of bank holidays. Our Government has increased this entitlement from the European rule that all employees must receive 4 weeks’ paid holiday per year inclusive of bank holidays. We have chosen to increase this entitlement and there is no reason why Brexit should of itself mean that we would repeal it.
In any event, many employers have now incorporated those statutory obligations into their contracts of employment and they would not be able to unilaterally change those contracts even if the law on this did change. Personally, I am old enough to remember seeing contracts where employees were entitled to no paid holiday at all, not even on bank holidays. I do not think there is any inclination on the part of Government or reputable employers to return to the days when that was acceptable.
On the other hand, there may be tinkering round the edges, so for example our UK Regulations state that holiday pay does not include overtime. As the right to holiday pay is derived from Europe our ports have said the calculation of holiday pay must be in accordance with European Law rather than UK Law. The European definition of normal pay includes regular overtime. Out of Europe, this wider definition will not be binding so there may well be changes around the edges of holiday entitlement.
Whatever the future holds, employers and employment lawyers are used to dealing with change and will continue to do so whether that change emanates from European directives or from UK legislation.