An Employers Guide to Brexit

Following the Brexit referendum there is some disquiet and anxiety in the working world of the UK. Some employees from EU countries are worried about whether they will be able to remain in their jobs here and some even feel unwelcome. The wave of hate crime in the streets has reinforced that feeling.

What Employers Can Do

Of course it could easily translate into the workplace. Employers need to be on the lookout for any harassment or unfair treatment as they have a duty to protect their staff members from it in compliance with discrimination legislation. It’s worth considering whether your employees need a reminder of your policies to keep to these rules.

If you have recruited from across the EU to fill job needs that couldn’t be filled locally, you may be concerned about the future too. Now is the time to start thinking about how you can manage without them by attracting more local people, perhaps by setting up apprenticeships and training schemes. Always remember, though, that you may not currently discriminate on the basis of nationality when recruiting new personnel.

Meanwhile you might look at ways to help your EU staff protect their status. If they have been here for over five years, they may be eligible to apply for naturalisation, and become a British national, or try for indefinite leave to remain. All the relevant information and documentation is available on the Immigration Direct website.

What Might or Might not Change

Any changes will not happen overnight. Those that might change include the ones introduced by recent EU case law, since the European Court of Justice will not have any power in the UK once we leave the EU. Currently these are the calculation of holiday pay to include the elements of overtime and commission, and accruing holiday pay while on sick leave. The 48 hour limit on the working week is an EU Directive that has not proved popular in the UK, as are the relatively new Agency Worker Regulations, so it’s also possible that they may be changed in time.

Employees may be happy to note that no changes are expected to holiday entitlement, since the UK currently allows 5.6 weeks per year, while the European entitlement is only 4 weeks. Family friendly rights and flexible working is another popular element of employment law that is unlikely to change. The Equality Act 2010 is expected to remain intact as well.

Communicating with your Personnel

You should, of course, reassure staff that there will be no immediate changes. Devising a way of updating them as new information becomes available will be crucial. However you do it, you should never include speculation or opinion, especially political. You do need to act immediately whenever some new development hits the news and social media.

The fastest way will be available to a business with an intranet which can have a page devoted to these developments. Notice boards can set them out as well, or you could have regular meetings. Your local bookkeepers may be able to suggest various other ways of cascading the information swiftly through the organisation.

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