Like many normal UK citizens I am trying to figure my way through the Brexit campaigns to make a personal decision on which way to vote. I don’t know, but how will it affect my business as an HR Consultancy in terms of employment law and HR Management for my clients?
What has the EU done for UK Employment Law?
Mainly workers’ rights have been effected and the main areas are Working Time and Agency Workers Regulations. The Working Time Regulations gave us a cap on average weekly working hours and a guaranteed number of holidays per year (a level which would make the US workers very jealous). Agency workers gave much needed rights to equal treatment and fairness at work should they remain longer term. Honestly? If you have an agency worker for more than 13 weeks, it is bad HR planning and costly.
We have the family friendly policies like maternity, paternity, adoption and parental leave. But remember the new Shared Parental Leave was all our own idea! We also can look at the anti-discrimination laws and rights for women (including equal pay – which is debateable in practice).
On the collective side, the EU has given us consultation and redundancy rules and TUPE (which is an industry in itself).
What could be done if we leave?
The Government could repeal all the legislation that the EU “made” us put in place. Practically, I think we would be hanging our employers out to dry with all the legal fees generated to manage the changes. We have such a web of employment law and case law attached to EU rulings that we would not have any time to run our business. Employment law is the fastest changing law in the UK in any case – interestingly not as fast as Tax Law – do we need to compound that speed of change?
It would be sensible, however, to make changes gradually and prioritise the needs of the workplace, employees and UK business above party political gains from populist decisions. I imagine much will remain as the status quo. We actually have quite a good balance of rights for employees. We have more flexible laws in regard to unfair dismissal and labour disputes than most of our EU neighbours.
And immigration, what effect would that have? 6% of the UK workforce are EU workers, what would happen to them? My view is that they will still remain fulfilling the gaps created by lack of skilled and willing UK workers.
In my research for this blog, I found that there are so many unknowns to the effect of BREXIT that actually making that judgement call on what will transpire after June 2016 is like gambling on a long shot. But does that make the case for remaining? At least we seem to know what to expect from our past involvement with the EU. As I say to clients who are recruiting new employees “past performance is the best indicator of future performance”.