With Brexit negotiations coming increasingly close to the wire, you’re possibly feeling left in the lurch over what actions you should be taking to best prepare your business. Is there anything you can start doing now?
If there is good news in all this, it’s that it’s unlikely you’ll have to make rapid or radical changes within your business from an HR perspective, whatever the eventual outcome. We can be certain that – at least in the short term – there’ll be no changes to UK employment law in the immediate aftermath of Brexit.
There are a few things you should consider though, while we wait for a definitive Brexit decision from the government.
Employee relations: be aware of the potential for differing opinions to escalate
In any workplace there’ll be differing views amongst employees around whether we should leave the EU or not.
Post-referendum, the immediate challenge for employers was to make sure that differences in opinion didn’t result in any unprofessional behaviour, or even bullying and harassment of employees on the grounds of their nationality, ethnicity or political beliefs.
Given that there’ll be differing views on the eventual outcome, it’s advisable to be aware of the potential for differences in opinion to escalate into more serious workplace issues.
Managing EU employees
Employment will remain legal and valid. Whether there’s a deal or no deal, your employment of EU nationals will remain perfectly legal and valid, if not permanently, then at least for a number of years.
The government has committed to allowing EU nationals to apply to remain in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme. The application process is designed to be straightforward and quick and will give EU Nationals the right to settle permanently. If individuals have been living in the UK for less than 5 years, they’ll be given a pre-settled status and the opportunity to apply for settled status once they have reached 5 years.
The Settlement Scheme is due to open fully by 30 March 2019, but EU nationals may apply now under a test phase. To take part in the test phase, the applicant must be able to use the online application form, have a valid passport and access to a document check app on an Android device.
You may want to assist your staff in making the application. There’s plenty of information on the government website about the Scheme, including an Employer’s Toolkit.
Mitigate insecurity. It’s important to try and avoid letting the wider uncertainty and speculation about the post-Brexit world generate unnecessary insecurity in your employees from other European countries.
Continue to treat EU employees equally. You shouldn’t treat your European employees any differently from UK nationals in terms of pay rise, promotion, or training and development opportunities. Be careful not to let any assumptions that they won’t be able to continue to work for you as previously planned sway you towards discriminatory behaviour.
You should also make sure all your employees are aware that nothing has changed in relation to the employment of the European nationals in your business. Remind them that it could be considered harassment if they were to question others on their status or intention to stay in UK.
Employment law changes are unlikely to have any immediate day to day impact
Even if there is no deal, the government has given a commitment to adopt the current EU based employment law, as it currently exists, into our UK law. We won’t have to adopt EU laws in future, though. In short, there’ll likely be some technical differences, but these are unlikely to have any day to day impact in the short term.
Supporting our customers
Here at citrusHR we’ve been busy behind the scenes making sure we’re ready to help our customers navigate the post-Brexit HR and employment law landscape, whatever the outcome.
Once the direction of travel is more established, we’ll be able to provide more detailed updates on:
- any transitional provisions with regards to European employees
- employing European nationals in the future, including any worker registration schemes that may be established
- any changes to the documents that you will need to check to establish the right to work in the UK.
If you have any concerns you’d like to discuss in the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team.