Ellen Shipton
Solicitor
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Date Published:15 Nov 2019 Last Updated:14 Apr 2021

The Brexit Series- Preparing for Brexit as an employer

Business Services

In these less than certain times, it is difficult to know how best to prepare yourself, as an employer, for the potential challenges ahead. Personal and political views aside, we recommend that businesses undertake a Brexit “health check”. As employers, we suggest you consider the following areas in the run up to Brexit:

EU-UK business mobility

There will be changes to UK citizens living and/or working abroad in the EU and changes potentially affecting travel for work purposes. UK staff may be required to get a visa to undertake work in the EU. The Government also currently has plans to introduce a new single immigration system which will end the free movement of people. Aspects to consider include:

  • What changes apply to non UK citizens visiting your business after Brexit?
  • How will your future business travel to the EU be affected?
  • Are you and your employees aware of changes to UK passport rules for travelling to Europe?
  • Do you transfer staff between businesses in your group?
  • Do you run a graduate training scheme?
  • Do you employ UK nationals living in the EU (or EEA)?

Recognition of qualifications

The European Commission has published guidance on the recognition of professional qualifications. UK professionals working
in the EU will need to check the requirements in their country of residence. EU professionals operating in the UK will need to check the relevant updated UK regulator. Are you aware of changes to the recognition of professional qualifications?

Current workforce

The Government has issued guidance for EU nationals wishing to live and work in the UK post Brexit.

EU nationals who have lived in the UK for a minimum of 5 years will be able to apply for “UK Settled Status”. Anyone who has been living in the UK for less than 5 years will need to apply for a “PreSettled Status” until they meet the “Settled” criteria. The Home Office has also published an Employer Toolkit which explains the EU Settlement Scheme and provides information on how to support affected staff.

Key considerations for employers include:

  • Do your staff know the next steps for registering as an EU citizen working in the UK?
  • What can you do to help retain skills and labour?
  • Have you spoken to your EU national employees about the EU Settlement Scheme?

Future skills need

From January 2021, it is anticipated that there will be a new immigration regime the specific details of which are currently being finalised. Until implementation of the new regime, EU/ EEA citizens arriving in the UK during the period after the UK’s exit from the EU will be able to apply for EU Temporary Leave to Remain (EuroTLR). The deadline for application is 31 December 2020. EuroTLR will not provide for permanent settlement and will only be valid for 36 months following which
citizens will need to apply and qualify under the new immigration regime.

Employers should continue to undertake Right to Work checks until 2021 using EU/ EEA citizens’ passport or national identity card.

Considerations for employers in this area include:

  • What will your hiring needs be over the next few years?
  • Will you need to hire someone from outside the UK?
  • What steps would you need to take to hire them?
  • Could different arrangements, such as remote working, be feasible for your business?

Avoid Discrimination

  • You should ensure that you have an Equal Opportunities policy and that all managers are trained on Equality and how to avoid discrimination in the workplace. Nationality is a protected characteristic, and therefore you will need to ensure that EU nationals are not made to feel uncomfortable at work due to upcoming changes or discussion in the workplace.

For further detailed information on how Brexit may impact your business, Ellis Jones would recommend consulting the Government’s website and both advice published by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and the British Chambers of Commerce.

If you require advice in respect of any business or employee related matter, please contact our experienced Employment Lawyers or Business Services Lawyers on 01202 525333.