Expert comment: Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Categories: Salford Business School

Dr Jonathan Lord, Senior Lecturer in Human Resources Management and Employment Law, University of Salford Business School, comments on the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022-23 and what it could mean for UK legislation, as well as HR working practices.

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022-23 was introduced to the House of Commons on 22 September 2022 and proposes significant changes to the status and operation of retained EU law. At the end of 2023, any EU laws that are of direct application and domestic subordinate legislation made under the European Communities Act 1972 will no longer apply. The bill will repeal all EU-derived regulations unless the government legislates to keep them, either in their original form or as an amended version. 

We need to see what is proposed before drawing any conclusions as, despite previous assurances, could the government take a gamble and deregulate employers with a view to increasing productivity and the free market? They are certainly tackling the current wave of industrial action with proposed restrictive trade union laws to ensure ‘things keep on moving.’

The UK has a culture of strong work rights derived not exclusively but arguably predominantly from the EU, and the government may replace these rights with similar alternatives or even improved rights. But, until it is announced what will be retained or replaced, there is only room for speculation. Stakeholders should therefore canvass the government around the areas of law they would like to see retained or outline a new form of improved workers’ rights. The government may well consider the political impact when choosing which regulations to keep and those to prioritise, which could result in lobbying being a powerful tool.

The bill is being debated by MPs today and ministers, with their officials, have to go through all European laws and regulations to decide what they want to keep, replace or discard. Having to undertake this review by 31 December 2023 is a big task, which could see employment rights removed or leaving the legal system in a perilous position due to the fact that there would be no rules to replace the EU laws.

The EU laws cover a wide range of workers’ rights which are entrenched in not only UK legislation but also HR working practices. This leaves a mammoth task of not only changing legislation but also a culture of standardised workers’ rights.

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