When the new Prime Minister was appointed, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Energy and Climate change were merged to form the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Along with the Prime Minister, Alex Chisholm was subsequently appointed as Permanent Secretary for BEIS.
Currently on the BEIS action list
Currently on BEIS’s action list is the Trade Union Act 2016. This piece of legislation which received Royal Assent in May 2016 was intended to commence by end of July, however, there has been no current implementation date announced. This act introduces some significant changes regarding increasing the threshold that ballots must reach to initiate strike action; amends the timing requirement in relation to industrial action and in terms of the supervision of picketing and also imposes legal requirements on unions.
The arena of Employment Law going forward
In general, the arena of employment law going forward will be determined by the results of renegotiating of the UK’s relationship with the European union (EU). David Davis MP was assigned the role of Secretary of State for exiting the EU. On 2nd October 2016 he announced that the Government plans to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act (ECA). This Act gives direct effect to all EU law and the introduction of a new Bill to repeal it, this will mean the Act will cease to apply from the day of exit. The ECA has meant that where there is a difference between the domestic legislation and the EU Law, EU Law takes precedence. The European Court of Justice which delivers judgements considering EU Law, and which is then currently binding on member states such as the UK, the ECA repeal will mean that in effect the ECJ jurisdiction will end.
Will Brexit adversely affect workers’ rights?
David Davis dismissed any suggestion that the Government intends to use Brexit to adversely affect workers’ rights – he went on to make it clear that in many areas, including annual and parental leave, UK law goes further than minimum standards offered under EU law.
“To those who are trying to frighten British workers, saying “When we leave, employment rights will be eroded”, I say firmly and unequivocally “no they won’t”.
The Prime Minister has previously called for a change in business governance, widening the pool of interested parties that can be represented on a company’s board such as its workers. Additionally this week, the Government has paved the way to curtail some uncertainty over Brexit with the announcement that the Prime Minister intends to trigger Article 50, the formal process for starting a two-year negotiation over exit from the EU, by March 2017.
Watch this space!