What could Brexit mean to the job market?

Employment Law

Charles Rae, employment partner at Shoosmiths, explained that once Brexit is completed the government could, in theory, decide to repeal or revise a significant proportion of the UK’s employment laws, where these are laws that are required as part of the UK’s membership of the EU.

“A number of employment laws fall into this category, such as many of the anti-discrimination rights, transfer of undertakings regulations, family leave entitlements, collective consultation obligations, duties to agency workers or working time regulations,” he said.

However, he added that “wholesale change” seems “unlikely” as the government will be loathe to change or remove laws that have become widely accepted and valued.

What may change are rules on areas such as TUPE, which many experts predict may be affected by a UK EU exit. Other areas experts have mooted could change in the event of Brexit are the Working Time Directive and Agency Workers Regulations.


It isn’t yet clear what the decision means for EU nationals working in the UK, but managing director of Migrate UK Jonathan Beech warned that the referendum decision for the UK to leave the EU could see the introduction of costly policies for organisations that employ EU workers.

“Thousands of EU migrants, currently in UK company roles, will potentially have to exit in the future if they fail to qualify under the current Points Based System that we use for workers outside the EU,” he said.

“Unless there are transitional arrangements in place from the government, which is not clear at this stage, current EU workers in the UK will now need to fall under UK immigration rules and the UK’s Points Based System. This system is geared towards attracting skilled migrants only, with migrants requiring a certain level of English language.”

Job Market

Employers have dealt with the uncertainty around Brexit by hiring fewer full-time roles, relying instead on temporary workers, and this is likely to continue as uncertainty over the exact form the exit will take continues.

“A vote to leave is likely to see employers abandoning projects, shelving new expenditure and implementing hiring freezes during a prolonged period of uncertainty,” said Kevin Green, CEO of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

Brexit could also seriously impact UK organisations’ ability to access the skills they need. “This vote could have significant impact on businesses ability to recruit both highly and low skilled individuals,” said Julia Onslow-Cole, legal market leader and head of global immigration at PwC Legal. “However, the full extent of this impact won’t be known until the trading negotiation position is decided and whether or not this includes a requirement to implement Freedom of Movement.”

There are also worries the result could lead to job losses in the financial sector, according to law firm Clyde and Co. Partner Nick Ewell-Sutton said: “Unless the financial services passporting rules are resolved in the UK’s favour, then many large financial services businesses are likely to relocate to within the EU meaning large scale redundancies would be highly probable.”