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What Brexit means for UK employment law

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What Brexit means for UK employment law

There has been a well-documented rise in radical tensions in public and on social media. Such issues may present themselves at work and should be proactively managed

Jennifer Ormond, Senior Employment Law Adviser at Ellis Whittam, looks at what leaving the European Union will mean for UK employment law 

Much of the UK’s employment law derives from EU regulations and directives, but decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU have influenced wider areas, such as carrying forward annual leave for absent employees.

This influence on UK employment law is unlikely to be unpicked in the short term. It would appear that the Brexit vote will not lead to wholesale changes to employment law. It is possible that less popular laws and cross-border regulations may be repealed but the process to do so is likely to take years rather than months.

The future of UK employment law will depend on the deal which the UK is able to negotiate with the EU. It is likely that the Government will retain harmonised employment laws with the EU in order to obtain a better trade deal.

Employee relations

One immediate effect of the Brexit vote has been to divide public opinion. There has been a well-documented rise in racial tensions in public and on social media.

Such issues may present themselves at work and should be proactively managed. It is inappropriate for such employee disagreements to take place within the pharmacy.

It is unlawful for a worker to be discriminated against or harassed because of their national origin or race and employers can be held liable for the acts of workers. It is important that you maintain and enforce an anti-discrimination or equal opportunities policy, provide relevant training where necessary and take appropriate action if complaints are raised.

Complaints which do not amount to harassment can usually be dealt with under a robust grievance policy.

It is far too early to predict the effects of Brexit for the future of the UK. However, it appears unlikely that there will be any great impact on UK employment law in the short term. Seek advice at the earliest opportunity and prior to acting in employment matters.

For help on this or other employment topics contact the NPA Employment Advisory Service on 0330 123 0558 or

Tips on managing staff absences

Whether influenced by the hot weather, the Olympics or genuine sickness, staff absenses can be disruptive. You can formally address sickness absence with employees and can issue warnings if they fail to attend work sufficiently.

You are permitted to enforce a reporting procedure which states when employees must phone to report their absence and who they must speak to. You can generally dismiss employees with less than two years’ service if they take too much time off work – subject to some exceptions, such as an illness or childcare problems.

  • Monitor sickness absence and conduct return to work meetings
  • Ensure employees know that they must speak to a named person, such as the Responsible Pharmacist or Pharmacy Manager, as opposed to texting
  • If an employee has high absence levels, have a formal meeting to issue a warning 
  • Take advice before dismissing an employee for absence reasons, even where they have less than two years’ service 
  • Create a high expectation culture regarding attendance and deal with any sickness absence quickly, consistently and fairly.

For more information on the NPA’s Employment Law & HR Advisory service visit

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