Brexit and Employment

Updated 8th January 2021

The UK officially left the European Union on 31 January 2020 but under the UK-EU withdrawal agreement there was a transition period until 31 December, during which time the UK was essentially treated as if it were still an EU member state.

Now that the transition period is officially over, and with a trade deal agreed between the UK and EU on 24 December, we can now consider the implications of Brexit on employment law in more detail.

Our employment team has prepared a podcast to briefly talk you through the changes we can expect to see in the future and the potential implications for employers.

Ultimately, employers should not be expecting significant differences between UK and EU employment law to emerge in the immediate future. Although the UK now has the freedom to deviate from EU employment law if it wants to, it is expected that ETs will be cautious in the short term and respect the majority of ECJ decisions as the EU and UK’s post pandemic agendas remain mostly aligned.

Looking to the future, employers need to be aware that there will be a wider scope to litigate on points that were previously considered settled, such as holiday pay. However, the extent to which UK courts will decide to overturn ECJ decisions is unclear at this stage.

In the short term, multi national employers should ensure, if they have not already, that they have taken proactive steps in regard to any UK representatives they may have in their European Works Council, as the EWCs can no longer be based in the UK. Most employers will need to appoint a new representative agent to be based in an EU member state.

Similarly, in the immediate term, employers should check the HMRC’s guidance on the new social security rules if they are proposing to send an employee to work in an EU member state. Note, however, that these may be subject to change as they are updated as per the approaches taken by individual EU countries.

For further analysis of the impact of Brexit on various legal disciplines, please visit our Brexit section or contact a member of the Brexit team.

  • Andrew Holden
    Department: Head of Rural
    Locations: Blackburn, Kendal
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    Andrew Holden - Head Of Rural Law At Napthens Solicitors
  • Angela Barnes
    Legal Director
    Department: Employment & HR
    Location: Kendal
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    Angela Barnes - senior associate in employment - Napthens Solicitors
  • Claire Hynes
    Associate Solicitor
    Department: Commercial
    Locations: Preston, Fylde Coast
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    Claire Hynes Corporate Solicitor At Napthens Solicitors
  • Jon Esner
    Department: Commercial
    Location: Preston
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    Jon Esner, Corporate partner, Napthens Preston
  • Rachel Atherton
    Senior Associate Solicitor
    Department: Commercial
    Location: Preston
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    Rachel Atherton Senior Associate Solicitor at Napthens Solicitors
  • Richard Robinson
    Department: Corporate
    Location: Blackburn
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    Napthens Solicitors Employee Richard Robinson
Meet the team...