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CIPD, TUC and others call on Shapps to scrap EU Law bill

The CIPD, Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Institute of Directors (IOD) are among 13 signatories of a letter to business secretary Grant Shapps calling on government to withdraw a bill proposing to remove retained EU law by the end of 2023.

Introduced by former Brexit minister Jacob Rees-Mogg during his term as business secretary in September this year, the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill proposed to put an end to EU-based legislation the UK has kept since the Brexit.

To be completed by 31 December 2023, the bill could affect UK working time regulations, the right to holiday pay, aspects of discrimination law and TUPE transfers.

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Signatories are concerned that, if passed, the bill will cause unnecessary disruption to businesses and working people.

Speaking to HR magazine Ben Willmott, head of policy at the CIPD, said: “The bill risks causing significant confusion and disruption for employers not to mention a huge amount of additional and unnecessary work for the civil service at a time the government should be focused on growth.

“Given the evidence shows that a large majority of employers – including small firms – don’t regard employment regulation as an obstacle to success there seems very little benefit in this bill for business, while it would create additional red tape as firms would have to get to grips with any changes to legislation.”

Simon Jones, director of HR consultancy Ariadne Associates, is concerned that the bill panders to Euro-sceptics like Rees-Mogg.

He told HR magazine: "This is a bill that no one but a few Brexit extremists want. The consequences are poorly thought through and will see good employers undercut in a race to the bottom.

"The rush to get this bill on the statute books suggest that ideology is more important than a sound legal framework for employers and employees."

Some areas of retained EU law, such as the Information and Consultation Regulations may need to be amended or scrapped but, Jones added, the implications must be considered before doing so.

HR Most Influential thinker 2022 Gemma Dale, author and lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, said the Retained EU Law Bill is of concern to HR professionals as a significant amount of UK employment law originates in Europe.

She said: “There are few issues with how these laws operate – they are established and well understood. Changing them will cause confusion and disruption and place an unnecessary burden and bureaucracy on employers who are already recovering from Covid and dealing with current economic turbulence.

“This appears to be a move that exists only to appeal to a certain voter base – rather than what businesses want or need. There is simply no need to weaken employment protection in the UK – in fact some issues, like the mass redundancies without following due process like those we saw at P&O this year suggest we need more protection not less.”

The full letter calling for the withdrawal of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill can be read via the IOD here.