Despite Boris Johnson’s assurances that Britain’s departure from the EU would be better for UK workers, there have been fears it would be seen by the government as an opportunity to erode workers’ rights in a bid to increase competitiveness.
However, the reality is that, so far at least, there has been no derogation from EU employment rights and the scope for any backsliding is limited.
Contained within the trade and cooperation agreement with the EU, there is a non-regression clause, under which Britain agreed not to reduce employment rights below the standards existing on 31 December 2020 in a manner that would affect trade or investment. The EU could take retaliatory measures such as tariffs if trade or investment were affected and could also legally challenge the regression before a panel of experts.
John Bowers QC, a leading employment barrister and principal of Brasenose college, Oxford, said: “Although the…