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Brexit

Susie MunroEditor's message: In response to the Brexit vote, Prime Minister Theresa May triggered art.50 of the Treaty on European Union on 29 March 2017, giving notice of the UK's intention to withdraw from the EU. Negotiations between the Government and the EU, on the terms of the UK's withdrawal, began in June 2017. Agreement has been reached in some areas but negotiations are ongoing, with the aim of concluding an agreement before the exit date of 29 March 2019.

The exit date is set by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which received Royal Assent on 26 June 2018. The Act provides for the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972, which brought the UK into the EU and gives EU law supremacy over UK law. EU law will be converted into UK law when the UK leaves the EU. This means that current workers' rights under EU law, such as working time rights, will remain in effect after Brexit, but will become subject to Parliament's control over domestic law.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 also confirms that, from exit day, UK courts will no longer be bound by new decisions of the European Court of Justice, although decisions made before exit day will continue to be binding on UK courts. The final court of appeal will be the UK Supreme Court. The jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights is, however, unaffected by Brexit.

One of the issues of particular interest to many organisations is the impact of Brexit on their European workforce in the UK. The UK Government and the EU negotiators have reached an agreement on citizens' rights, under which EU citizens who arrive in the UK by 31 December 2020, the end of the transition period, will be entitled to apply for "settled status" when they have five years' continuous residence in the UK. This will give them the right to stay indefinitely.

In the event of a "no-deal" Brexit, it is expected that the transition period for EU citizens in the UK will still apply, although this has not been confirmed. The position for UK citizens in the EU if there is no deal is unclear.

Susie Munro, senior employment law editor

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