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Just a year to go before the United Kingdom leaves the European Union!
Following the day the UK formally leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, a Brexit transition period will take place until 31 December 2020 during which the parties negotiate the terms of the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU. Whilst there are still a lot of uncertainties, there are a few areas which employers and HR should start thinking about which we explain here.
The immigration regime will change
As employers, you may want to start carrying out an audit of your workforce in order to identify who might be at risk if the rules on immigration change, and consequently to what extent your business will be impacted by this.
You should also be ready to support employees from the EU in any immigration applications they may make. Employees who do not yet qualify for permanent residency/citizenship are able to apply for a residence card as evidence of their right to live/work in the UK. However, EU nationals will need to apply for settled status post-Brexit and therefore the Government has indicated that it is not necessary to make such applications before Brexit (unless an individual is planning on also applying for British citizenship prior to the cut off date).
Residence cards could still prove to be a useful way of demonstrating when an employee first began exercising their EU Treaty rights, particularly if the employee will apply for settled or temporary status after Brexit. Such employees will need to provide all their payslips and a declaration from their employer in order to make the application.
Harassment claims may increase
It is possible that employers will start receiving grievances and claims based on incidents within the workplace as many EU nationals have reported being made to feel unwelcome. In the weeks following the EU referendum result in June 2016, there was a 46% spike in hate crime reported to the police, some of which happened in the workplace. Figures released a few short months later showed that hate crime was still 16% higher than a similar period in 2015.
Employers should review their anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies, and diversity training should be given in order to reduce the risk of such claims arising.
Employment Law post Brexit
Although we do not know yet the extent of the changes to come, it is hard to believe that UK employment law will be transformed significantly as a result of Brexit. Employment protection rights which flow from Europe already reflect accepted standards of good employee relations. Most fundamental EU employment laws supplement rights which previously existed in UK law and UK law goes further than the EU legislation in many areas. As the UK will want to maintain trade with the EU, it will be necessary to offer similar employment protection rights.
If you employ EU workers and you are concerned about how to prepare for Brexit, you can contact the Employment team on 02380 717717 or email email@example.com. To discover how you can ensure your policies are up to date and robust to protect you against potential claims in the future, you can find out more about the team’s Peace of Mind package on their section of the website.
This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice. All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.