Speakers: Catherine Barnard (University of Cambridge) and Jonathan Hayward (UNITE the Union)

Tuesday, 23 January 2024, 17.30-19.30 (UK time) (Zoom seminar)

Following the Brexit referendum in 2016, the UK finally left the European Union (EU) on 1 January 2021. The repercussions on economic growth, patterns of migration, trade and a battery of other areas are extensive and ongoing. For trade unions, the effects of Brexit on the operation of European works councils (EWCs) are particularly concerning, as EWCs – under the terms of directives dating from 1994 and 2009 – provide the framework for transborder information and consultation rights for workers in many multinational companies across the EU. To what extent are these companies using Brexit to roll back workers’ rights? How are the effects being felt in the UK, and other EU member states? How are unions in the UK and in the EU reacting?

In this on-line seminar we welcome Catherine Barnard and Jonathan Hayward, two internationally-known experts on EWCs, to address these issues and to lead a discussion on the legal and practical challenges.

To register, please use the Eventbrite link below:



17.30 Michael Gold (Chair): Introduction

17.40 Catherine Barnard: Brexit and the Legal Challenges facing European Works Councils

Catherine will address the main legal challenges that confront European works councils following Brexit, particularly those located in UK multinational companies. These include their changed status under UK legislation, as well as the effects that UK withdrawal has on the calculation of company size thresholds that trigger inclusion under the term of the EWC Directives.

18.10 Jonathan Hayward: Brexit and the Practical Challenges facing European Works Councils

Jonathan will consider the main practical challenges that Brexit has created for the functioning of EWCs, particularly for the continuation of those based in UK multinationals, the continued participation of UK employees within the scope of EWCs, challenges for UK employees/reps in the future and the responses from Unite and its European allies.

Discussion: 18.40-19.30

19.30 Close


Our speakers:

Catherine Barnard has been Professor of EU Law and Employment Law at Trinity College, Cambridge, since 2008. She is the author of European Union Law (2020) and The Substantive Law of the European Union: The Four Freedoms (2019), among many other publications, and Senior Fellow in the UK in a Changing Europe project. She is a regular contributor to radio and television programmes on the impact of Brexit.

Jonathan Hayward is an experienced International Officer in UNITE the Union who has an extensive level of knowledge in the area of European industrial relations and European works councils. Jonathan is a recognised lead expert negotiator in EWC negotiations and has negotiated EWC agreements under various EU member state laws and more recently under Irish law due to the impact of Brexit. He also acts as trade union expert/coordinator to a number of EWCs on behalf of the European Trade Union Federations, including International Airlines Group (IAG), GE Aviation and Swissport.