29 May 2019

The European Parliament has recently adopted two employment Directives, which may have to be implemented in the UK depending on the terms of any Brexit deal reached with the EU.

The Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions in the EU sets out revised obligations for employers to inform workers of the essential aspects of their employment relationship, and defines a set of minimum rights for workers. The aim is to address the challenges brought about by developments in the world of work. In particular, it is intended to benefit workers without fixed or guaranteed hours, such as those working in the gig economy. However, it will not apply to those who work on average three hours a week or less in any four consecutive weeks, unless there is no guarantee of any paid work at all. Legislation will be required to bring UK law into line with the Directive.

The European Parliament has also adopted a Directive on the Protection of Persons Reporting on Breaches of EU Law, which is part of a package of measures designed to strengthen whistleblower protection at EU level. One of the reasons for this is the number of recent scandals showing that whistleblowers can play an important role in uncovering unlawful activities that damage the public interest and the welfare of citizens. Whistleblower protection is currently fragmented and uneven across the EU and the Directive will introduce some uniformity. The UK already gives whistleblowers comprehensive protection and much of the content of the Directive is already contained in domestic law. However, there are some differences between the Public Interest Disclosure Act (which relates to breaches of UK law) and the Directive (which relates to breaches of EU law). Under the Directive, organisations with more than 50 employees will have to establish internal reporting channels and respond to reported concerns within three months (six months in complex cases).