What ‘Brexit’ could mean for employment law in the UK

With the introduction of the government’s European Union Referendum Bill for an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, there is increasing attention on what a ‘Brexit’ could mean for employment law in the UK. In a recent article for CIPD’s People Management, Elizabeth Slattery, a partner in the employment department at Hogan Lovells highlighted potential changes that could result from a British exit from the EU.

The article identifies potential changes around the Working Time Directive and the Agency Workers Directive which are described as being particularly disliked by employers. However, there are less likely to be changes in areas such as anti-discrimination and parental leave as changes in these areas are seen as being ‘politically unattractive’, and existing rights already go beyond the EU baseline.

Elizabeth argues that, whilst there may be some significant changes, ‘political considerations make it relatively unlikely that core employee rights would be significantly reduced following an exit.'

The IPA recently released a report examining the role the EU has played in strengthening and extending rights at work in the UK.


A fifth of Britons ashamed of their organisations

A new study from the PRCA, in conjunction with Opinium Research, reveals that a fifth of workers across the UK have been ‘embarrassed’ or ‘ashamed’ about the industry they work in or company they work for.

When it comes to seeking new employment and deciding upon an organisation to work for, a company’s reputation is one of the top three most important factors for Britons – and is seen as more important than flexibility of work, benefits offered, culture, and the organisation’s location.

John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Virgin and Apple scored highly as organisations that had great employer brands. 67 per cent of respondents said that the technology sector was seen as the industry with the best reputation, 33 per cent of those actually employed by the sector said they were embarrassed to work in it – one of the highest recorded.

Commenting on the findings, Tony Langham, chairman of the PRCA, said: “Organisations with strong reputations are more able to recruit and retain the best talent and to get the most from their workforce.”


Pay growth at highest level since 2007 but skills gaps worsen

Official figures from ONS show that annual wage growth is at its highest since 2007, with average real term pay rises at 2.7 per cent. David Kern, chief economist of the British Chambers of Commerce, said that increase in pay growth shows that living standards are rising and “households will be really starting to feel the benefit.” However, Mark Beaston, chief economist at the CIPD, urged caution and said: “Of greater concern is that we are still not seeing the productivity growth required to make real pay rises sustainable.”

ONS also reported that employment continued to rise, with 31.05 million people in work, 114,000 more than for the 3 months to January 2015 and 424,000 more than for a year earlier.

Alongside rising employment rates, there are growing concerns over skills gaps. According to a new CIPD/Hays study, more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of HR professionals are struggling to recruit suitably skilled staff for their organisations. Respondents said all types of roles were now more difficult to fill, with managers, specialists and technical staff vacancies the most difficult to fill. Recruiters said that finding candidates with specialist or technical skills topped their list of challenges.