Life after Brexit – what will change?
When Britain leaves Europe, will it affect you? Can you prepare for any changes? Or is it too soon and you’ll have to wait for a year or more before you can decide what to do?
We’ve been asked these questions since the day the referendum result was announced. That was a difficult day: having to say “we don’t know and we’ll have to wait and see” to worried people is never ideal.
By now, a couple of things are clear:
- It’s going to happen – unless there’s an unexpected major political development by 2019 that derails everything.
- It’s unlikely there will be a significant change to employment laws in the short-term.
- If your clients are based outside the UK or you have European employees, you will be affected and might want to start preparing.
Employment laws that have come from European membership include maternity rights, holidays, TUPE protection when a company’s ownership changes, the Working Time Directive (48-hour working week), anti-discrimination protections and rights for agency workers. The government’s “Great Repeal Bill” will transfer all existing areas into UK law.
Theoretically, the UK government could pass laws and make changes to these and other areas after Brexit – but not before. In reality, removing or reducing maternity or other rights would risk political unpopularity.
One grey area involves anything that may change between now and Brexit. How the UK deals with any proposed European changes or legal rulings between now and 2019 is unpredictable and might come down to the prevailing political opinion about any particular issue, as well as the state of Brexit negotiations.
People who are specifically affected by Brexit include European nationals who are currently still waiting to hear if they will be able to remain in the UK. We also don’t know how easy or difficult it’s going to be for European people to move to the UK after Brexit. Anyone with non-European employees will know that the process for them to move to the UK can be slow and bureaucratic.
This, along with the potential concern that the UK is less welcoming to people from other countries, may reduce the number of Europeans staying here or moving here over time. If your company currently finds it easy to find candidates from other countries for their skills, including languages, you may need to start thinking about how that could change – how you will source French speakers if there are fewer French people in your area by 2020.
Trading with people outside the UK will, of course, also be affected but it’s impossible to predict how export costs or other taxes may change at the moment.
We’ll provide updates about Brexit as things develop and any potential changes become clearer.
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