With Brexit now just over 6 months away, and no clarity on what the landscape will look like after 29 March 2019, organisations are grappling with how to operate their EWC in a post-Brexit era, particularly if there is no deal. Whether you have an existing EWC under UK law, are currently negotiating an EWC agreement or have an EWC which includes your UK workforce, this will apply to you.

There has been very little discussion so far from either the UK Government or the EU on how EWCs will be dealt with in a “hard” or a “soft” Brexit. As part of its “no deal” readiness planning, however, the UK Government recently published some guidance on the impact of a no-deal Brexit on EWCs. In particular, the guidance states that the UK rules will be amended so that:

  • No new requests to set up a European Works Council or Information and Consultation procedure can be made
  • Provisions relevant to the ongoing operation of existing EWCs will remain in force
  • Requests for information or to establish EWCs made before Brexit but not completed by that date will be allowed to complete

This guidance is obviously limited and it is yet to be seen what exactly this will look like. Although the announcement refers to provisions relating to existing EWCs remaining in force, it is difficult to see how UK law can continue to apply unless there is a formal agreement between the UK and EU.

For those who are negotiating EWCs under UK law, or who have existing UK law governed EWCs, there are a number of considerations, including whether it makes sense to look at changing the applicable law and if so what law that should be. For those who have EWCs governed by the law of another EU country, the question is whether you can (or want to) keep your UK workforce “in” or “out”.

Something else to add to the Brexit-planning to do list.