What impact will Brexit have on Working Time Regulations?

Posted Thursday 5th September 2019

Brexit is (probably) fast-approaching and businesses are hastily trying to prepare for the outcomes, which are mostly still unknown. Changes lie ahead, and, while the EU currently has a big say over many of the laws and regulations adhered to by businesses in the UK, it is uncertain how many of these will remain. Of course, the government could choose to keep many of the regulations the way they are, meaning limited disruption. However, once we leave the EU, the door will have opened to the possibility of the government modifying regulations that currently define how the UK works.

A set of regulations that would affect all workers, should there be amendments or repeals made to them, would be the Working Time Regulations, which came into force in 1998. These have been one of the most controversial directions, with many UK employers still being opposed to them due to, for example, the cap on weekly working hours and minimum holiday requirements, as well perceived ‘unfair’ costs to a business arising from holiday pay.

Currently, employers must take into account compulsory and voluntary overtime, bonuses and results-based commission when calculating how much pay should be received by an employee when they take annual leave. This has rattled some employers, as it is perceived as providing a loophole by which employees can manipulate the timing of their leave to receive more pay, despite not being able to earn commission or work overtime whilst they are away. Another particularly contentious point is the right for employees to claim back any days of annual leave on which they fell ill, allowing them to retake their annual leave days again at a later date.

On the other hand, there are many positive qualities that Working Time Regulations allow workers and which are intended to balance the employer/worker relationship. The regulations currently set out the need for an uninterrupted rest period of ‘no less than 20 minutes’, for every six hours an adult worker has worked. They also limit a worker’s working time to an average of 48 hours (although workers can opt out of this limit) and provide the guidance which entitles every worker to a minimum of 28 days’ annual leave (if full time) in the UK.

So, could we be seeing huge changes to these entitlements that many of us currently take for granted? There is no way of knowing what priorities the government is considering, but there could well be changes in store for UK employees.

While there is no way to accurately predict what lies in store for employees post-Brexit, there are numerous possibilities, including some that certainly would see workers feeling particularly hard done by. At Joelson, we’ll be watching this space.

This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.

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