man voting on elections in europe in front of flag

It’s only been a matter of weeks since the General Election and the promise of an EU Referendum is still two years away yet already the CBI is encouraging companies to speak out against the prospect of an exit.

The CBI fears that British business would suffer as it would be isolated and trade would decrease. On the other hand Euro sceptics say that the costs to the UK of EU regulations and red tape would more than make up for the more difficult trading conditions.

From a HR perspective can we imagine what employment law would be like without the rights and obligations derived from EU Directives?

It would be a very different world of work.

The contentious accrual of holiday pay during long periods of absence could be a thing of the past and the current arguments about the inclusion of overtime and commission as part of holiday pay might be forgotten. Life would be simpler! In fact it’s only as a result of EU laws that the statutory right to have paid holiday exists all.

The EU Working Time Directive was behind the introduction of a statutory right to take paid leave. In addition to a maximum number of weekly working hours, and minimum daily and weekly rest breaks.

So paid holidays, limits on working hours and rest periods could all disappear.

What about discrimination rights? The Equality Act 2010 – covering discrimination based on sex, race, religion or belief, disability, age, sexual orientation and gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnerships – may no longer be required. The same would be true in relation to the equal pay legislation, the laws providing equal rights to part time workers and fixed term employees.

Many maternity and parental leave rights have been implemented and strengthened in order to comply with EU Directives.

The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 regulating the fair treatment of agency workers when compared with permanent workers is one of the more recent examples of EU laws being applied across all member states.

The rights under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 or TUPE could be removed leaving employers free to decide who they took on following a business take-over and what terms the fortunate employees would be offered.

Collective rights too might no longer exist as consultation would not be required before a transfer or even a close down. The Woolworth’s litigation wouldn’t have been necessary, as the Collective Redundancies Directive would have had no impact on our national laws.

The list goes on and on to include Data Protection provisions; Health and Safety laws and Human Rights.

Of course whether the Government would repeal any of these rules and regulations on an EU exit is open to question. However it’s clear that whether for better or worse joining the European Union in 1973 has largely shaped the HR environment that keeps us all busy today.

This post was edited by Christopher Davies. For more information, email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

four × four =

This blog is intended only as a synopsis of certain recent developments. If any matter referred to in this blog is sought to be relied upon, further advice should be obtained.