24 June 2016 - Post by:Sarah Henchoz
The UK has voted for a Brexit. Is there any immediate action required for employers?
Our key messages are:
No immediate action is required No, you don’t have to do anything now. The vote itself does not trigger any employment law changes, nor do we expect there to be any changes in the short term. You don’t need to conduct a wholesale review of, or amend, employment contracts or policies at this stage. Once formal notice is served for the UK to withdraw from the EU, there will be a negotiation process of up to two years (possibly longer) to agree exit terms. Until we leave, all EU legislation (including workers’ free movement rights) will continue to apply, and it’s business as usual.
Wait and see It may take a while for the Government to regroup and clarify its intentions, so you’ll need to play things by ear. Immigration control will no doubt be high on the agenda, although we don’t expect anything to change from an immigration perspective for those workers already in the UK. The Leave camp has talked about an early bill to restrict EU nationals entering the UK. If this gets Parliamentary support, you might think about bringing workers into the UK pre-emptively or taking steps to secure their immigration status or citizenship rights before the expiry of the two-year exit period; they will then be here before tougher immigration restrictions take effect or before the new bill comes in (if it does). But the likelihood is that any employment law change will be gradual and piecemeal and that any trade deal agreed with the EU will entail us keeping similar employment law standards anyway.
Plan ahead No immediate action is necessary, but this is an opportunity to plan ahead and, as details of the post-Brexit model become clearer, to consider and address any consequences for your workforce. For example, some firms are already talking about relocating jobs from the UK. Here is our Brexit employment contingency planning guide which has some practical steps that you should consider, if you haven’t already done so, in order to be prepared.
We will keep you informed as significant developments unfold. Please contact us if you would like to discuss the potential impact for your business.