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Fundamental changes to employment law by end of 2023?

On 22 September 2022, the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill was introduced to the House of Commons and, if passed could give rise to a significant shake up of employment rights.

The Bill aims to get rid of all EU-derived UK legislation by the end of 2023.

Under the European Union Withdrawal Act most UK laws in existence on or before 31 December 2020 have been preserved – what is called ‘retained law’. Such laws include UK legislation implementing EU legislation such as the Working Time Regulations, TUPE, the Agency Workers Regulations and Part-time Workers Regulations. ‘Retained law’ also includes decisions of the ECJ made on or before 31 December 2020.

The Bill will:

  • repeal EU-derived laws by the end of 2023 – this deadline can be extended to 23 June 2026 but no further
  • repeal the principle of supremacy of EU law by the end of 2023, i.e. tribunals and courts will not be able to use EU decisions to help them interpret UK law
  • repeal directly effective EU law rights and obligations in the UK by the end of 2023, and
  • require retained direct EU law to be interpreted and applied consistently with domestic legislation

The UK is already free to remove retained law, but only by using tightly defined processes. The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill however allows for the scrapping or replacing of EU law by means of regulations (statutory instruments) – a faster process which involves less parliamentary scrutiny.

The government is yet to comment on what specific pieces of legislation it might seek to remove or retain if the Bill is passed. The only predictable thing at the moment is uncertainty.