The TUC has accused the Government of keeping working people in the dark about the likely impact of the UK leaving the European union with no deal in place.

“Consequences of no deal”, which can be found at https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/2019-09/consequences%20of%20%27no%20deal%27.pdf, argues that a “no-deal” Brexit would not only harm jobs, rights and livelihoods but would also damage public services.

What is more, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady argues, “no deal is not a clean break. It will jam the gears of government for years”.

The report points out that, if the UK leaves the Union without a deal, workers in the UK will immediately lose the ability to take challenges to the EU’s Court of Justice (CJEU) and its judgments will no longer be binding in all UK courts.

Any new, post-Brexit decisions made by the CJEU will no longer be binding on UK courts and tribunals, although Clause 6 of the Withdrawal Agreement set out that those made before Brexit would generally have to be followed by UK courts and tribunals, but not by the Supreme Court.

This means, the TUC argues, that it will be harder for workers to enforce their employment rights and, among other changes, they will lose their ability to set up European Works Councils (EWCs).

Referring to the Employment Rights (Amendment) (EU Exit) (No 2) Regulations), the report notes that, while these are intended to preserve, in the event of no deal, the Secretary of State’s power to extend transfer of undertakings (TUPE) rights beyond the scenarios envisaged by the original EU Directive, it is not clear what sort of protections will be offered.

“In the event of a no-deal Brexit, and no longer constrained by the legal principles outlined above, any government will be free to undo employment rights derived from EU law,” the report suggests.

Among the rights which it sees as being under threat from a “right-wing Government” are those concerning: working time; information and consultation; TUPE protection; and health and safety (for example, the obligation to carry out workplace risk assessments and take steps to address risks).

Comment by Croner Associate Director Paul Holcroft

A “no-deal” Brexit is still unconfirmed and, even if it does take place, employers should not believe that existing employee rights are just going to vanish overnight.

Any legal changes in this regard will take time to implement going forward and the Government has yet to confirm what developments, if any, it will seek to make post-Brexit.

Regardless of the outcome of Brexit, there is no doubt change is on the horizon and we need to be ready for it. We still do not know what the full implications will be but, in the meantime, employers would be wise to keep both themselves and their workforce up to date on all areas that may affect them.

Last reviewed 9 October 2019