The White Paper, Legislating for the United Kingdom’s Withdrawal from the European Union, introduced by David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, appears to guarantee, albeit in general terms, the protection of workers’ rights enjoyed under EU law after the UK has left the EU.
It states that the Government is “committed to maintaining the UK’s status as a global leader on workers’ rights and will make sure legal protection for workers keeps pace with the changing labour market”.
There will be some legislation introduced after Brexit, notably a separate Immigration Bill. Until that time nothing will change for EU citizens living and working in the UK without Parliament’s consent. After its exit from the EU, the Government may then seek to amend or repeal particular legislation — such as the unpopular Agency Workers Regulations or parts of TUPE.
Wholesale changes to discrimination law, however, seem unlikely. And it is worth pointing out that many employment rights, such as unfair dismissal and the 4 national minimum wage, come from domestic, not EU law. The 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday enjoyed in the UK is derived from domestic law — the EU law only provides four weeks’ paid holiday.
In the end, workers’ rights will depend on the future shape and nature of the UK’s economy after Brexit. The Government has stressed that legal protection for workers will need to keep pace with a changing labour market.