"Bonfire" deadline ditched - the Government drops the Retained EU Law Bill "sunset clause"

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, which seemed to promise a "bonfire" of EU laws at the end of this year, is currently making its way through Parliament - and drawing headlines as it does so.

The effect of the Bill as originally proposed was that most retained EU law would automatically be revoked on 31 December 2023, unless a decision was made to keep or amend specific legislation or specific provisions.

Retained EU law is EU-derived legislation that was preserved in the UK's domestic legal framework by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to ensure its continuity after Brexit. The potential impact on HR is therefore significant, as the legislation that could be revoked includes regulations covering: working time; TUPE; part-time workers; fixed-term employees; and agency workers.

On 10 May 2023, however, the Government announced that the "sunset clause", providing for automatic revocation of legislation at the end of 2023, will no longer apply. Instead, the Bill will include a list specifying the retained EU laws that will be revoked on 31 December 2023 and the laws not listed will remain in force. The Government has proposed revoking the following employment-law-related Regulations:

  • the Posted Workers (Enforcement of Employment Rights) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/539);
  • the Posted Workers (Agency Workers) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/384); and
  • the Community Drivers' Hours and Working Time (Road Tankers) (Temporary Exception) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/244).

The Bill also makes changes to the way courts and tribunals interpret retained EU law and makes it easier for them to depart from retained ECJ case law.

The amended legislation is due to be debated in the House of Lords.

Sign up for our live webinar on 23 May 2023 with Niran de Silva KC, employment law specialist at Littleton Chambers, to discover the latest developments.