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The new Brexit Freedoms Bill: Impact on Employment Law

The new Brexit Freedoms Bill: Impact on Employment Law

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill was published on 22 September 2022, marking what could be the most significant piece of UK employment legislation since the 1970s.

Following Brexit, the UK’s transition out of the EU was alleviated by the retention of a ‘snap shot’ of applicable EU laws in force in the UK, known as retained EU law. The new Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill aims to dramatically accelerate the process of removing and replacing these retained laws. In a press release, the UK government stated that the Bill will enable them to create regulations ‘tailor-made’ to the UK’s own needs by scrapping any what the government considers to be un-needed EU laws.

The Bill will automatically repeal any EU law so that it expires on 31 December 2023, although this can be extended to June 2026 if the government needs to extend the deadline in relation to specific laws. There is potential for those ‘sunsetted’ EU laws to be retained if ministers decide to preserve or replace them beforehand.

Restatement, Replacement, or Revocation?

There are provisions enabling certain retained laws to be saved, replaced, or removed by new regulations. The basic options are Restatement (turning the law into a purely UK law); Replacement (complete replacement with a new UK version); and Revocation (the law is removed without a UK equivalent). Important employment law provisions falling under the last category include the Working Time Regulations and some of the collective redundancy consultation requirements in Section 188 of the Trade Union & Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

What this means for UK Employment Law

Any EU-derived secondary legislation (laws not contained in an Act) will disappear under the sunset clause by the end of 2023, unless deliberately saved or replaced. As it stands, this will impact a wide range of employment-related regulation, such as:

  • The Working Time Regulations;
  • The Agency Workers Regulations;
  • The Part-Time Workers Regulations;
  • The Fixed-Term Employees Regulations;
  • TUPE;
  • The Information & Consultation of Employees Regulations;
  • Various Health & Safety Regulations; and
  • The Maternity & Paternal Leave Regulations.
Key Issues

The Bill has been subject to intense public criticism already, with some noting that it gives ministers too much legislative power, and that it will disrupt the ‘smooth functioning of the economy and society’. It also raises several important questions, such as:

  • Is there enough time to reform laws properly, or allow effective consultation about any news laws?
  • Will existing regulations be used as the starting point for new laws – e.g. for laws surrounding rest breaks, will the Working Time Regulations be consulted?
  • What happens to those rights already incorporated into contracts, such as holiday rights in employment contracts, or exit provisions in TUPE contracts? Such rights are set to disappear under the ‘sunset clause’.
What does the future of Employment Law look like?

At such an early stage, there is only speculation as to which laws will be retained, and it is expected that there will be significant debate and many proposed amendments before the Bill is passed into law. While previously, employers would have approximately two years to prepare for the implementation of new EU directives, it looks like time isn’t on their side with the new Bill. A period of uncertainty for employees and employers alike is ahead.

If you are would like more information about managing a gender pay gap or have any other questions relating to employment law, please contact the Employment Team on 03330 430350.

About the author

Debbie Fellows
Debbie Fellows

Debbie Fellows



For more information, contact Debbie Fellows or any member of the Employment team on 03330 166582.