Brexit – what will change for UK employers?The last few months have been filled with uncertainty around the Coronavirus which has seen Brexit drop down the news agenda. However, as the deadline for a deal looms, it’s dominating the headlines once more. Now that the UK is officially out of the EU, what does this actually mean for employers?

There’s a lot we don’t know, and it’s still a controversial and changing situation, but there are some certainties and businesses will want to make sure they’ve thought about these.

Support staff working in the EU

If you have team members who are citizens of EU countries, they are likely to be concerned about the security of their job, so make sure to reassure and engage them so they feel stable and do not look to leave.

As remote and home working has proven to work for many businesses during the current crisis, you might see a spike in requests for employees to work from their home countries. Consider how you manage this and try to be as flexible as possible. However, for staff not based in the UK there are legal and tax complexities and risks to consider.

For UK nationals working in EU offices following Brexit, you should support them to obtain any residence documents that they will need to continue working in the EU in 2021. If you expect to move other UK nationals to the EU after 2020, remember that immigration rules will apply.

Qualifications may no longer be recognised

If you have employees working in the UK who studied in EU countries, there’s a chance their qualifications may no longer be recognised because they were not gained in the UK. This also applies to staff that trained and qualified in the UK that are now working in the EU. We do not know what professions this will apply to, but it’s something to be aware of – recruiters will also need to be aware of this when hiring.

As an employer, you may need to support current staff to get UK or EU based qualifications.

Changes in the recruitment process

In your recruitment plan for next year, you will need to think about whether you will be able to find the skills you need in the UK or will you need to recruit from abroad. Recruiting from abroad you can expect additional costs for things like sponsorship licences and visas – something you may not have had to factor into budgets before. Don’t forget to allow time in your recruitment strategy for the immigration process, you’ll need to make sure recruiters and hiring managers are up to speed on immigration and right to work rules.

Because of added costs and planning you may prefer to keep your recruitment UK-based. Getting your fundamentals right such as employee pay, and benefits will be important to attracting UK talent as markets will be competitive.

If you find there is a skills shortage in the UK, consider creating apprentice or trainee schemes (if you have the budget to do so) to develop talent internally. Bringing in the staff you need from the EU before the end of the year is another option, which requires careful workplace planning.

Business travel from 2021

Covid permitted of course, visas and permits may be required to travel between the EU and UK, even for short meetings. Employers will need to stay up to date on requirements and ensure all the necessary documentation is in place before anyone plans to travel.

Irish and UK citizens will still be able to go between countries for work purposes without a visa or permit, but other EU citizens crossing into Northern Ireland will require additional documents as they would travelling to the UK.

Many staff will feel unsettled for the remainder of 2020 at least, whether that is driven by the impact of Covid or Brexit. Communicate regularly to reassure and show staff that their employers are planning and taking action to protect the business and staff.

Good leadership and people management will be crucial so that team members feel engaged and work well together. Brexit could cause conflict in the workplace, so you’ll want to ensure staff want to stay in the business.

If you need any further guidance on the impact of Brexit on your business, contact us at [email protected]