With the COVID-19 crisis ongoing, it would have been easy to forget that, effective 1 January 2021, the UK’s transition period for leaving the EU will end.
But what does this mean for employers? Below are the most critical points which an employer may want to consider.
Legal Protection of Employees
From a technical legal standpoint, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 means all employment rights under the EU legislation are currently put into UK law. However, there is always the possibility now for the government to retract or amend these rights in the future.
The interpretation of many of our employment laws and rights comes from EU legislation and decisions of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The Withdrawal Bill proposes to give ministers the right to make regulations which tells the lower courts (and, indeed, Tribunals) which EU laws and ECJ decisions which they will be bound by, and the tests that will apply if they want to divert from the EU precedent.
The Employment Bill, which is proposed to enhance UK workers rights post-Brexit, includes:
- Proposals to establish a single enforcement body;
- Requirements for employers to give 100% of tips to workers;
- Workers right to request predictable contracts;
- Plans to prohibit redundancy from the point an employee notifies their employer that they are pregnant until six months after the end of maternity leave;
- Leave for unpaid carers;
- Making flexible working the default; and
- Entitlements to neonatal leave.
This has not yet gone to it’s second reading in Parliament, likely delayed due to COVID-19.
What other changes could we see? Working Time Regulations, TUPE and some rights to family leave all derive from EU laws, and therefore could be open to changes post Brexit.
Driving in the EU post-Brexit
There may be changes that employers need to consider if they employ staff whose roles involve driving in the EU. Once the UK leaves the EU, British citizens may need one or more international driving permits. When driving in the EU or EEA, you will also need to have a motor insurance green card.
Travel in the EU
If your employees are required to travel to the EU for work or have planned a holiday, they will need to ensure that their passport has at least 6 months validity left and that it is less than 10 years’ old.
We are not immigration lawyers, but it is worth nothing that employers have an obligation to check their employees have a right to work in the UK. Persons from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein’s rights to work in the UK will change from 1 December 2021.
The deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme is 31 December 2021; if a person has applied before this date, they will have limited rights to live and work in the UK after 30 June 2021. After that date, employers are also entitled to ask for evidence of their status under the EU Settlement Scheme or other visa requirements.
However, after 1 January 2021, a new immigration system will apply. citizens moving to the UK to work will need to get a visa in advance. EU citizens applying for a skilled worker visa will need to show they have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor to be able to apply.
On the surface, therefore, there won’t be significant changes for existing UK workers, and workers from the EU (subject to them obtaining proper status under the Settlement Scheme). What will be interesting are the changes in the next few months and years, as Tribunals and legislation may start to pull away from EU precedents. Of course, Thrive will always be here to keep you updated!
By Alicia Collinson
Did you know we provide outsourced HR services to businesses?
Using Thrives HR services makes your life easier; we provide you with quick and most importantly, correct HR decisions so your staff management is stress-free and sufficient. We take care of everything. From drafting contracts and handbooks tailored to your business to advising and supporting you through redundancies. There is no limit to our knowledge, if you have an HR question, our qualified solicitors have the answer for you. We are always one phone call away.
Why should you outsource your HR services to solicitors? Getting your HR services from a solicitor means, should a case ever proceed to tribunal everything we have ever discussed is protected by Legal privilege meaning all conversations are protected. Whereas if you were to use an HR consultant, all conversations and documentation regarding that employee would be disclosable in the tribunal.
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Please note this blog is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action. Please contact us if you have any questions on firstname.lastname@example.org