Monthly Archives: May 2013

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Europe and Employment Law

The current debate over an upcoming referendum on UK membership of the EU has raised some serious questions. Many people remain apathetic to the situation – citing the ‘it will all be the same anyway’ excuse – but the truth is that European law has exerted a lot of power and influence over how we live our lives, and in particular, how we can go about our daily working life.

The EU’s influence over employment law in the UK is colossal, and there have been many changes that have come about thanks to this power. The following are just a few that would affect us all as employees:

  • Pregnancy/maternity/paternity leave rights
  • Minimum paid annual leave
  • Agreed working hours
  • Equal pay

Taking just those few we can see that changes – including the maximum 48 hour week, with exceptions, and the minimum annual leave of 28 days could have a major effect on smaller companies.

More Changes from Europe

The EU has also had a hand in devising and implementing discrimination laws, parental leave changes, the rights of agency workers and part time employees and so on, and to publish a full list would mean dedicating many pages. Some of these changes have been very much in the favour of the employee, but where smaller, newer employers are concerned – start up businesses and so on – there are serious concerns that they could be harmful in the long run.

Even if the UK votes against membership of the EU – if and when the promised referendum arrives – changing laws that have been implemented under EU law will be difficult. Nevertheless, it remains a fact that while we remain under EU membership, we are party to many amendments to the laws regarding employment, and some of them may not be to our satisfaction.