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/ 25 Oct 2022

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill: employment implications

There is at the moment a piece of proposed legislation which has gone largely unremarked in the press (no doubt due to the turmoil over the occupancy of no 10) but which has fundamental effects on all employers and employees in the country and will throw the employment relationship into uncertainty for years to come; the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill.

In this article, we explore the Bill, and the impact it could have on employees and employers.




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What is the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill?

In June 2022, the government published the Retained EU Law (REUL) dashboard, a catalogue of over 2,400 pieces of retained EU law made up of certain pieces of EU legislation that were ‘cut and pasted’ onto the UK statute book.

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, now enables the government to decide how to repeal and replace REUL. The Bill also includes a sunset date (currently 31st December 2023) by which all remaining REUL will be repealed if not assimilated into UK domestic law.

What are the implication for employees & employers

The Bill seeks to turn off many employment rights that have been developed over the last 50 years and which until now were held to be fixed law. These rights include holiday pay, maximum working hours and TUPE rights i.e. the rights of workers when their employment is transferred to another employer. Perhaps more existentially, it seeks to remove the direct effect of EU law on UK law altogether. It is difficult to describe how intertwined EU law has become in our employment relations. The effect of trying to unravel this Gordian knot of law will be chaos and uncertainty that will have an effect on all employment contracts for many years to come.

What is likely to happen next?

Most clients will be asking which laws are likely to stay, and which are likely to go.

Given the amount of REUL measures at risk, the Bill brings with it a lot of uncertainty, making it impossible to give employees and employers any definitive advice on how to prepare.

This government proposal has been made without any proper audit of the effect of these proposed laws. The Bill includes an extension mechanism for the sunset of specified pieces of REUL until 23rd June 2026, and it seems likely that this additional time will be required.

If and when this law is passed employers will need to have their own audit of all their employment practices before any implementation, which, although profitable for employment lawyers, will make the whole of employment relationships in this country unstable for the foreseeable future.

You can stay abreast of legislative developments through the REUL Dashboard. If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, contact our London employment lawyers to find out more.

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