Published on June 16th, 2016 | by Prospect


EU Matters – Your employment questions answered

Earlier this month, we invited members to submit questions to Binder Bansel, Head of Employment at Pattinson and Brewer, Prospect’s solicitors. The questions and Binder’s answers are below:

Alan Burns – Cavendish Nuclear

Q1. Pensions will they be affected by the changes if we came out of the EU?

Some pension protection is currently provided by the Pensions Directive which seeks to safeguard workers’ rights to occupational pensions and protecting the rights of the those workers. Leaving the EU is unlikely to help to maintain the current pension protections.

Q2. How many of the current ‘Employment Laws’ are direct result of being in the EU?

Many employment rights are due to UK laws being required by an EU Directive. Examples include, TUPE, collective redundancy consultation and the Equality Act 2010.

Q3. What effect on ‘Employment Laws’ would leaving the EU mean to me?

Some domestic employment rights might be eroded or repealed if they are no longer mandatory due to the relevant EU Directive no longer being binding on the UK.

Steve Nicholson – Sellafield Sites

Q1. The back bone of Employment Law and safeguarding of workers Health Safety and Welfare at work have been strengthened through E.U Legislation over the last two decades, mainly by the Working Time Directive (1998) and the European Six pack (1996).

If we leave the E.U will these safeguards remain in place or will we subjected to a ‘Race to the Bottom’ by this unscrupulous Government?

Leaving the EU will leave all workers at the mercy of the Government voluntarily keeping in place the domestic employment rights derived from the EU.

John Borowski – BT

Q1. Will EU Brexit process affect holiday wages / pay / working hours and redundancy  as these regulations are all defined by EU law?

Brexit will mean that we will no longer be guaranteedthe Working Time Regulations 1998 will remain, as the Regulations originally only came into being because of the Working Time Directive. The same is true of the collective redundancy protections.

Q2. Will my rights as a BT employee change? If so how will this be communicated to myself?

Any employment changes should be in accordance with your contractual terms, any right for BT to change terms and subject to collective bargaining process between BT and the unions. Brexit will increase the chance of BT seeking to change terms as those rights derived from the EU may no longer be in force.

Q3. Will this affect BT’s position in its pension deficit plan. If so how will this affect me?

The EU Directives providing pension protections will not be binding on the UK following Brexit.


Keith Tomlins – Natural Resources Institute, Greenwich University

Q1. A question I have is whether English Common law will eventually be eroded and superseded by Civil law since most countries in the EU practice Civil law and when I talk to my European colleagues they assume that we will adopt this.

While we have a number of legal rights derived from EU Directives and UK legislation, we still retain common law rights as a result of legal principlesbeing decided by the UK courts. It is unlikely that common law principles will be completely supercede by EU Directives.

Q2. A second question is that if I am right, countries that practice Common law (i.e., UK, USA, Canada, Australia etc) compared to Civil law have a more independent judiciary, more miscarriages of justice resolved, better economic outcomes (hence employment) and better human rights outcomes.  Is this correct?  It this important for our longer term liberty and economic development and hence employment?

It is difficult to make any comparison withother countries and state with any certainty that a common law system provides greater protection for the individual and/or access to justice. It is evident that the EU Directives have provided numerous protections which arguably a common law system might not have done so.

Q3. A third question is that countries that practice common law seem to have had fewer dictatorships compared to ones that practice Civil law (for example in the past 150 years most EU countries have had dictatorship and the majority of comparable Common law countries such as UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand have not).  If this is correct, I am concerned that future generations living in the UK may not have such political and economic (hence employment) stability as had we voted to leave and retain our system. 

As was per the previous question, it is difficult to make any comparison withother countries and state with any certainty that a common law system provides greater political and economic stability.

Julie Wood – BT

Q1. Could our contracted hours become susceptible to increase if we are not in the EU?

The limits on the average working week are contained in the Working Time Regulations 1998, which in turn are derived from the EU’s Working Time Directive. The absence of the Working Time Regulations would make it easier for employers to increase contracted working hours and make other detrimental changes to other areas such as holiday pay, rest periods and holiday entitlement.



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