12 January 2021

The effects of Brexit on employment law

When the transition period ends on 31st December 2020, the provisions of the withdrawal agreement will have practical implications on employment law

Continuity of fundamental freedoms

Fundamental freedoms will generally continue to apply if they have already been exercised before the transition period ends.

Therefore, the freedom of movement of workers already exercised will be maintained

This will be accompanied by equal treatment, non-discrimination and protection for members of the workers' families. Similar provisions are included for self-employed persons who have established themselves in the other territory or who work there as frontier workers

Social security status also remains essentially unchanged, as long as EU or UK citizens continue to exercise their fundamental freedoms. 

No freedom to provide services

The principle that fundamental freedoms continue to apply if they have already been exercised before the transition period ends does not extend to the freedom to provide services

While the amended directive for posted workers will lead to essentially equal pay conditions within the EU for posted workers from other Member States, the UK will no longer be required to apply minimum conditions to EU workers after the transition period

Furthermore, as the UK will no longer be bound by the conflict-of-laws rule, it will be unclear what law will apply when a worker is temporarily posted from the EU to the UK or from the UK to an EU Member State until a new agreement has been concluded.

Residence and work permits

Unless the EU and the UK agree otherwise, EU citizens who want to start working in the UK when the transition period has ended would have to meet the conditions currently applicable to third-country nationals in order to obtain a residence and work permit. These conditions are comparatively strict in order to attract highly qualified and high-income earners. 

Social security

In a no-deal scenario, an EU Regulation provides contingency measures relating to social security coordination. For example, employees who have had an international career and have contributed to various EU pension schemes before Brexit should be able to aggregate their rights for the calculation of their pension allowance from the pension authorities of the Member State in which they decide to retire

In addition, EU Member States have already introduced draft transition measures to secure the situation of UK citizens working and/or living in the EU on a permanent basis. In some cases, these measures are subject to a condition of reciprocity with the UK.

These article was written on December 2020

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