Under the terms of the Brexit deal, the UK is no longer bound by any new EU Directives issued from 1 January 2021. As part of having the tariff-free trade arrangement, the UK has agreed not to remove the existing level of employment rights already in place as of 31 December 2020.

Following this date, the UK can set its own employment and other laws. Courts and tribunals do not have to follow decisions made by the Court of Justice of the European Union or comply with any new EU Directives that are issued.

There is speculation on potential changes to certain employment rights in the UK, such as possible amendments to paid holidays and rest breaks enshrined in Working Time legislation. However, any changes are unlikely to happen in the near future.

In practice, when an EU Directive is issued, member states have two years to implement the Directive into domestic legislation by way of national legislation. There are currently three EU Directives in the employment law field, which are due to be implemented in the next two years in EU member states. The Whistleblowing Directive obliges employers to give feedback to whistleblowers when they raise concerns. This Directive also protects a wider range of whistleblowers.

In addition, there is also the new eponymously titled Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive. This Directive includes a right to request a more stable and predictable employment contract and a ban on long probationary periods.

Finally, the EU plans to introduce the Worklife Balance for Parents and Carers Directive which grants enhanced EU-derived rights for parents and carers.

Following Brexit, the UK has no obligation to implement these three EU Directives into domestic law. In any case, the government has already confirmed plans to adopt many features of these new measures, some of which have already been introduced in GB draft legislation. For example, the right to request a more stable and predictable employment contract and a new statutory right to carer's leave are both contained in the proposed Employment Bill. The UK already has more extensive whistleblowing protection and flexible working rights than many EU member states. Whether the government decides to enhance these further remains to be seen. It is unclear at this stage whether similar measures to the GB Employment Bill will also be introduced in NI by the Stormont Executive.

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