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Are post-Brexit changes to our employment laws on the way?

Posted
February 5, 2021
Employment Law

One of the arguments put forward in favour of Brexit was the prospect that we could reduce unnecessary ‘red tape’, thus making our businesses more competitive. So, now that we have finally 'Brexited', can we expect any ‘streamlining’ of our employment laws?

Recent speculation

When questioned on this issue, senior Conservative politicians have previously been keen to emphasise that they have no plans to water down workers’ rights. However, the Financial Times recently printed an article which claimed that the government is thinking of repealing some of the employment laws based on EU directives and regulations. In particular, it claimed the government is considering removing the 48-hour limit on the maximum working week and setting out new rules on how to calculate holiday pay.

In response to the FT’s story, Kwasi Kwarteng (the new Business Secretary) initially tried to dampen speculation, going so far as to suggest that he intends to ‘enhance’ workers’ rights rather than dilute them. However, he subsequently confirmed that a review of employment laws is ongoing. This has led the Shadow Business Secretary, Ed Miliband, to question the government's motives; why would a review be necessary if they have no intention of ‘unpicking’ existing protections?

Well, in the latest plot twist, Mr Kwarteng has now told ITV Political Editor, Robert Peston, that the review (which was apparently started by his predecessor) is no longer happening.

What do you think?

Regardless of whether you were in favour of Brexit or not, no one would claim that our employment laws are perfect. No doubt there are ways in which they could be improved. By the same token, with every change we make, we create new uncertainties for both employers and employees. So, if you were in Mr Kwarteng’s shoes, are there any employment laws you would like to change? If so, how? We’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

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