The announcement of the Great Repeal Bill may be a watershed moment in the naming of modern legislation - never has the title of a 21st century law owed so much to the 1832 Great Reform Act. Perhaps we are also witnessing the start of a welcome trend of giving more exciting names to new laws; "TUPE" and "TULRCA" would certainly strike less fear into the minds of employment lawyers if their names were more irreverent.
Yet despite its knowing wink at past constitutional reform and promising all manner of greatness and repealing, the Great Repeal Bill would not actually repeal very much legislation at all. That said, it would keep the status quo for the mid-term and should be cautiously welcomed by employers and employees.
The Bill would convert existing elements of EU legislation into domestic law, severing the link between the UK and the EU and rejecting the primacy of EU law. This act of incorporation would mean that employment laws as we know them would be kept as they are. Of course, the Government would be able to propose changes or even repeal those laws in the future – the purpose of the Bill is to allow the UK to “take back control” – but trying to unpick legislation and consulting on proposed changes is something which should not be rushed.
Businesses can draw more certainty about future stability from recent statements made by Cabinet Members. During the referendum debate some Ministers proposed that Brexit would allow a bonfire of employment laws as the Government could abandon workers’ protections derived from EU law. However, the Government’s recent line suggests that stability is the name of the game, with both David Davis and Theresa May stating that they do not intend to make wholesale changes to employment law.
Whether politicians can be held to their promises is another matter, however in this era of post-referendum instability it’s “Great” to hear anything which suggests we can be certain about the future.
Theresa May's 'great repeal bill': what's going to happen and when? PM has announced legislation to end authority of EU law. But why leave if we are transposing its laws into British law? What is the ‘great repeal bill’ proposed by Theresa May? The aim of the legislation will be to end the authority of EU law by converting all its provisions in British law on the day of exit from the bloc. At the same time, the 1972 European Communities Act giving direct effect to all EU law will be repealed.