We published an article on the impact of a possible Brexit on employment law back in April, concluding that whilst the impact of Brexit can be speculated it was uncertain. This remains the case.
What we do know is that the legal mechanism for the UK to exit the EU is contained in Article 50 of the EU Treaties. The first stage of this process is for the UK to give notice of its intention to leave which, David Cameron indicated this morning, is likely to be given in October. David Cameron has also announced that he intends to resign by October, enabling ‘fresh leadership’ to embark on the withdrawal process.
A period of negotiation will then follow between the UK and the European Council on arrangements for the UK’s withdrawal, taking account of the framework for their future relationship (this agreement must be agreed by Parliament and a qualified majority of the European Council). Exit will then take effect within two years of the date the notice was given or from the date of any agreement, if reached earlier. The UK and Council may agree to extend the two year period but this would require agreement from all of the remaining member states.
This essentially means that whilst the process for Brexit may be triggered in October, we won’t see any immediate change to employment and immigration law. Given the complexity of the UK’s relationship with the EU and the fact that Article 50 has never been used before, it is likely that the UK will remain part of the EU for at least two years after notice has been served.
In the build up to the referendum we produced a webinar about the potential impact Brexit could have and the Article 50 procedure – check it out here.