Website Cookie Policy

We use cookies to give you the best possible online experience. If you continue, we’ll assume you are happy for your web browser to receive all cookies from our website.
See our cookie policy for more information.

Practice Areas

More Information

Leeds: 0113 244 6100

Sheffield: 0114 267 5588


Brexit and the Bursar: a guide for the independent school as employer

April 2016

What are the likely effects of a Brexit on those UK employment laws of most relevance to the independent school sector?

The EU referendum will take place in five weeks' time. Speculation about the realities of a "Brexit" has been circulating for months. Given that much employment law comes from EU directives which have been passed into UK law, how might schools as employers be affected?

If we leave the EU (which would only take place after a two year notice period), domestic law derived from EU law could in theory be repealed. However, a gradual approach to modifying EU-derived legislation is more likely than whole-scale change, as any sudden removal of rights could be unsettling to the economy and to voters.

Which employment right derived from Europe?

  • Some elements of discrimination law
  • The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment Regulations 2006 (TUPE)
  • Rights to holiday, rest breaks and the 48-hour working week
  • The right to be consulted on collective redundancy
  • Rights for agency workers


Independent schools may find that staff have broadly similar rights whether the choice next month is "in" or "out". A number of employment protections are home-grown, for example shared parental leave and the right to request flexible working.  The UK has also in some cases introduced provisions which are more protective of employees than EU law requires, for example in its family leave and TUPE provisions.

Citizens of the EU will lose their automatic right to live, work and study here. It is possible that interim arrangements will allow for people to stay here temporarily. A points-based immigration system may rank EU citizens alongside those from outside the EU when applying for work and study places.

The changes which employers see on a Brexit will to a large extent be affected by any EU trade deal to which the UK signs up.  It is possible that agreeing to the principle of free movement of people and the EU's social and employment regulations would be part of any deal allowing the UK access to the EU marketplace.

After Brexit: what might change?

Commentators have suggested that we might see:

  • a new cap on discrimination compensation;
  • positive discrimination being made lawful
  • changes to the TUPE Regulations to make the harmonisation of terms easier
  • removing the 48-hour cap on the working week
  • fewer rights associated with holiday leave and pay
  • repeal of the Agency Workers Regulations


If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Alacoque Marvin on 0113 244 6100.

You can keep up to date by following Wrigleys Education team on Twitter here or sign up for details of Wrigleys events here

The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors




Alacoque Marvin View Biography

Alacoque Marvin


24 Feb 2020

GDPR in schools – ensuring best practice

It's been almost two years since the GDPR came into force. We look at its impact and the ways schools can develop best practice in data protection.

21 Feb 2020

CLA proposal for Rural Business Units

The CLA has submitted a pre-Budget paper to the Treasury calling for diversified rural businesses to be taxed as a single trading Rural Business Unit.

19 Feb 2020

Unfair dismissal: whose reason is it anyway?

When the decision-maker's reason for dismissal is not the real reason.