BEERG: As Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Likely to be Voted Down, Employment and Data Issues Hang in the Balance

November 30, 2018

Further uncertainty colors important policy issues that would be addressed by a Brexit Withdrawal Agreement that now appears dead in the water, including in the areas of employment law, data flows from the EU, and the free movement of people between the UK and EU.

If the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement defies predictions and is not voted down in the House of Commons, the BEERG Global Labor Newsletter notes it would have a lot to say about issues vital to HR, including the following:

  • Employment law: The EU has made it clear that in any future trade agreement with the UK it will insist on a level playing field when it comes to certain issues, such as labor and employment law.  In other words, the EU will demand, as part of any deal, that the UK keep in lockstep with the EU—not trying to become more competitive by lowering employment, labor, or health and safety standards.

  • Data flows from the EU:  While data flows from the EU to the UK will continue uninterrupted during the UK's transition from the EU (if there is one), beginning on December 31, 2020, the UK will become a “third country” to the EU, which only allows the transfer of personal data to such countries under certain conditions.

  • The movement of people:  The political declaration notes that the UK has decided that the principle of free movement between the EU and the UK will no longer apply.  As reported in last week’s Global Labor Newsletter, the UK intends to put a visa regime in place based on education and skills.  EU citizens will no longer automatically be able to go and live and work in the UK but will only be able to do so if certain conditions are met.  Needless to say, EU countries will likely reciprocate, which means that similar conditions will apply to UK citizens wishing to go and live or work in Europe.  These conditions will probably vary from country to country.

Looking ahead:  What happens if/when the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is voted down?  According to BEERG:  "No one knows and no one can predict with any degree of certainty... It is no exaggeration to say that the UK faces its most serious political and constitution decision in modern times, decisions that will set the country’s course for decades.  What happens in the next couple of weeks will be critical."