On Thursday 22 September, the beginnings of a potentially huge legal change commenced which seems to have gone largely unnoticed. Jacob Rees-Mogg introduced a bill to put an end to EU-based legislation the UK has kept since Brexit which could affect working time regulations, the right to paid holiday, Agency Workers Regulations (AWR), aspects of discrimination law and much more.
Part of the Brexit process created retained EU law, consisting of EU-derived legislation that was preserved in the UK’s legal framework to ensure continuity as we left the EU. This was never intended to sit on the statute book indefinitely, and the new Brexit Freedom Bill will ‘sunset’ the majority of retained EU law so that it expires on 31 December 2023.
In advance of this date, the government will determine which retained EU law can be reformed to benefit the UK, which can expire, and which needs to be preserved and incorporated into domestic law in modified form. This means retained EU law will be repealed automatically unless ministers decide to preserve or replace them beforehand.
Business Secretary, Jacob Rees Mogg said:
“Now that the UK has regained its independence, we have a fantastic opportunity to do away with outdated and burdensome EU laws, and to bring forward our own regulations that are tailor-made to our country’s needs. The Brexit Freedoms Bill will remove needless bureaucracy that prevents businesses from investing and innovating in the UK, cementing our position as a world class place to start and grow a business.”
It’s too early to know what exactly might change and which aspects of current UK regulations will be protected. However, given that a lot of employment law is derived from the EU, the Brexit Freedoms Bill has the potential to seriously erode worker rights. We will be watching carefully and will keep you updated.