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BEERG Newsletter - EWCs: Brexit and UK experts

Earlier this week, the Johnson government in the UK announced that it planned to bring forward legislation that would allow it to disavow parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, an intrinsic element of the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement, an international treaty between the UK and the European Union, that set out the terms on which the UK left the EU. If the UK pushes ahead the EU is likely to respond with “counter-measures” that could lead to a trade war between the EU and the UK. 

While all things Brexit are now of interest only to a relative few, me included, what will catch the attention of BEERG member companies with EWC’s under Irish law is how the UK breaking an international treaty will reflect on the standing of UK “experts” advising such EWCs. For example, how would the Irish Labour Court take to being instructed on European employment law by an “expert” from a country engaged in a trade war with the EU? It seems to us, and has for some time, that the position of UK EWC “experts” will become increasingly untenable as time goes by. A clash between the EU and the UK over the Northern Ireland Protocol will only make the position even more untenable.

Interestingly, the just concluded Amazon EWC agreement (first story) has the following language: 

The Expert supporting the Employee Representatives for the purpose of the Amazon EWC should reside, have permission to work in one of the EU countries, and be knowledgeable about European Works Councils.

We expect to see such language become more common in EWC agreements in the future. 

Published on: May 18, 2022

Authors: Tom Hayes

Topics: Employee Relations, The UK and European Union

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