27 October 2022

On 22 September 2022, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the now former Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), introduced the snappily titled Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill into the House of Commons.

If passed, the Bill will mean that all law derived from the European Union – either retained following Brexit or under subordinate legislation made under EU Law will be “sunsetted” automatically on 31 December 2023. The Head of Employment and BattensHR, Dawn Gallie explains what it could mean for employers and employees alike.

Everything will go unless it is specifically retained or restated by the Government.

Although that date can be extended, there can be no delays beyond 23 June 2026 - the 10th anniversary of the Brexit vote.

For any EU derived law to be kept, positive action is required from the Government. The Bill gives Government, rather than Parliament, the power to decide what law is to be retained, and to what extent, and the power to amend that law. Not only is this a significant change, with concern for the lack of scrutiny, it is a mammoth task. There are approximately 2,400 pieces of EU Law.

This Bill will impact regulations such as TUPE and the Working Time Regulations, Part Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations among others.

The reality is, the Government cannot deal with all of the legislation within the next 15 months and the effective bonfire that has been lit under EU derived law produces yet more uncertainties for businesses and for employees.

It is not clear what the Government proposes to keep, what will be reworked or what will automatically disappear. It is anticipated that much will be kept, albeit amended. However, we don’t know the detail - and the devil will be in the detail.

Cases decided on such matters as holiday pay or working time will no longer be binding on Tribunals and Courts. Under the bill, anything which, immediately before the end of 2023, is retained EU Law and is not recognised or available in UK law, is not to be enforced, allowed or followed. Cases beyond December 2023 will not have to follow previous EU Law or decided cases.

Much of the current legislation provides protection for workers and regulation of employers from health and safety. TUPE has been a complex and contentious area for many years and it may be the case that the Government sees fit to make some revisions.

Having gone through Brexit, a global pandemic, the “great resignation” and now this new Bill, employers could be forgiven for feeling exhausted at having to face yet more uncertainty and disruption. Regardless of our political persuasion, few will consider the abolishment and/or amendment of 40 years of EU Law within 15 months as a sensible approach.

We now have a new Prime Minister and a new Cabinet. It may well be the case that further changes will be proposed, the Bill may even be abandoned (dare I say it, U-turns have been known). Either way, it is important for employers and employees to keep a close eye on developments over the coming months to know where they stand as we head into 2023 and beyond.

For more information please contact Dawn on 01935 846233 or email