Since late last year, there has been concern over the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill (‘REUL’) and the impact it would have on UK legislation going forward. The Bill contained ‘sunset clauses’ which would see EU regulations contained in secondary domestic legislation that had not been expressly preserved in UK law, abolished at the end of 2023. With over 4,000 pieces of legislation to review, the government faced heavy criticism over the uncertainty as to which of those laws would be affected – whether through preservation, reformation, or revocation.
However, the significant risks and legal uncertainty created by the Bill have been recognised. The Business Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, announced yesterday that the sunset provisions in the REUL Bill will be removed and instead, a new approach adopted ‘that will ensure ministers and officials can focus more on reforming REUL, and doing that faster’. The new approach sees the sunset provisions being replaced with a list of 600 pieces of secondary EU legislation that have been identified for revocation at the end of this year, and ongoing powers given to the government to revoke or reform EU law as necessary.
There has been significant political backlash from the Conservative Party over this U-turn but it is a welcome change by businesses as greater certainty has now been created over which legislation will be removed at the end of this year. It also means that come first January 2024, we will not be waking up to a new and uncertain legal landscape.
In terms of employment law, there have only been three pieces identified for removal as follows:
- The Community Drivers’ Hours and Working Time (Road Tankers) (Temporary Exception) (Amendment) Regulations 2006
- The Post Workers (Enforcement of Employment Rights) Regulations 2016
- The Posted Workers (Agency Workers) Regulations 2020
The above announcement is part of the Government’s series of reform updates ‘Smarter Regulation to Grow the Economy’. The series will give updates on how the Government intends to reform regulations to support economic growth in the UK, including improvements to employment law which may help businesses save around £1 billion a year, whilst safeguarding the rights of workers. Some such changes will include amendments to TUPE, the Working Time Regulations and Non-Compete clauses but watch this space as there is more on this to follow!