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12th July 2016

Brexit and a new PM – what it means for UK employment law

Jeremy Nixon, employment partner at Thrings, comments: During the recent referendum campaign, some on the Remain side argued that if the United Kingdom voted to stay in the EU, our continued membership would serve to protect workers’ rights.

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This assertion arises from the fact that many (though not all) employment protection rights enjoyed by UK workers are European in their origin.

It is fair to say that no one on the Brexit side put forward detailed plans to repeal employment protection legislation. There was however discussion about reducing so-called “red tape” and this led commentators to speculate that following the vote to leave, the Agency Worker Regulations might be repealed and certain judgments of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) could be reversed.

As regards ECJ judgments, the ruling that certain commission payments should be taken into account when calculating holiday payments is one of the decisions which has been identified as ripe for reversal.

As events in London moved quickly yesterday morning, Theresa May outlined her campaign pitch in Birmingham. She vowed to address inequality and promised to strengthen rules giving shareholders influence over executive remuneration. With a pledge to put the Conservative Party at the service of working people, it seems very unlikely that an administration led by Mrs May would launch an attack on employment protection rights. Indeed, the new Government might even have some sympathy for those arguing that the introduction of tribunal fees in 2013 is an unconscionable fetter on access to justice and should be reformed. Time will tell.

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