After several long, complicated and confusing years, the Brexit deadline seems to be on the horizon. The EU has agreed to an extension to the 31st January 2020 and understanding how working with employees and companies from the EU will alter following this date, and knowing how to manage this change is crucial for HR professionals. Although there is no way to truly know what the future has in store post-Brexit, there are a few actions employers can take now to prepare for what happens next. Here’s APSCo’s Brexit Toolkit.
1. Unsurprisingly, UK citizens and UK registered companies may face restrictions on their ability to own, manage or direct a company registered in the EU. Firms which have their central administration or principal place of business in Europe, are likely to be considering restructuring and for some companies, it may be safer to base certain parts of the business in the UK. So, ensure you are kept in the loop with regards to business structure moving forward.
2. It’s also crucial that HR teams have a full overview of those employees who are UK nationals working in the EEA, including those employed directly as permanent members of staff and anyone operating on a contract basis. Regardless of how these individuals are employed with your firm, you’ll need to be aware of which members of staff may require visas or a work permit to comply with immigration controls. Review the status of UK nationals (or non-EU nationals relying on UK immigration status) and seek expert advice on actions needed for them to continue to work in the EEA.
3. It’s also vital that HR leaders review agreements that are currently in place with partners and providers based in the EEA and check these contain a choice of law and jurisdiction clause. It’s also advisable to review any contracts to ascertain if you have the right to terminate the agreement if necessary.
4. For the members of your company which will be affected by Brexit, it’s useful to know that some countries are providing UK nationals with temporary rights of residence and right-to-work post-Brexit – but they must be registered in their taxation systems. I’d strongly advise that HR teams make their workforce aware of this and assist with any required compliance forms where possible to keep employees engaged.
5. Over the last few months, there has been much discussion about settled status. This can be a very worrying and burdensome task for employees, so it is advised that HR leaders support eligible staff and contractors in applying for settled status in the UK. The Settlement Scheme is open for EEA nationals and their families living in the UK on exit day. If there is no deal, the deadline for applying will be 31 December 2020.
6. Currently, the government has given no indication in its white paper on post Brexit immigration that work permits will be available to the self-employed: employment by a sponsor is likely to be a prerequisite. If your business is heavily reliant on contractors from outside of the UK, it’s important to consider in advance how you could adapt to a new regime.
With HR teams already struggling to fill skill shortages, it’s important that they assist and prepare for Brexit well in advance in order to retain their employees. Providing simple pieces of advice, and being available and able to answer questions will ensure that your business is thriving in a post-Brexit era.