In September, the government announced the ‘Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill’, another element of BREXIT rearing its ugly head.
As part of BREXIT, it was intended for the UK to do away with the EU law it was obliged to follow as a member, and that’s exactly what this Bill is intended to do. In fact, ex Prime Minister Liz Truss was very direct at the recent Conservative Party Conference when she said that “all EU red tape will be consigned to history” and our shiny new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appears to be aligned to this so far.
What’s going to happen?
Currently, the UK has around 2400 pieces of EU legislation, which relate to a large array of different areas – the environment, food and agriculture, health and social care, education, business strategy, workers rights etc.
The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill sets out how the government, and specifically ministers, are going to review these pieces of legislation and either assimilate them into UK law, or they will be ‘sunsetted’ (which in this context means removed from law) as of 31st December 2023.
Ministers will be able to take individual pieces of legislation and make tweaks and changes to them before they become UK law and will also be able to extend the deadline on reviewing these if they think they need longer than the next 14 months.
The other point to note is that ministers will be able to make changes by ‘statutory instrument’ which means that there may not be significant parliamentary scrutiny of changes made or of which legislation will disappear.
How does this affect me and my business?
The truth is, nobody is sure just yet what pieces of legislation are going to be retained, in part or entirely, and what’s going to be scrapped.
Naturally, as HR people, we’re particularly concerned with the changes this might make to workers rights. This includes things like TUPE, Working Time Regulations, Agency Worker Regulations, GDPR and the part time and fixed-term worker regulations. After the end of 2023, UK case law will also take precedence over EU case law. This will include previously overturned UK case law being reinstated if it was overturned due to EU rulings.
Experts are already making predictions about what practical changes might be brought about by this Bill, but we’re inclined to wait and see before getting excited!
What do I need to do?
Watch this space! There have been calls for the bill to be scrapped, but what happens next remains to be seen, so there’s nothing you can do yet, except keep your eye on any publications for updates. We’ll be doing the same and figuring out how we can help our clients to implement any HR changes made.