Following the historic Brexit deal vote on Tuesday 15 January, and while we wait to see what parliamentary consensus can be reached over the next few weeks (the prospects of which seem dim), let’s look at some myths many employers have regarding Brexit.
“I’ll have to dismiss all my EU national employees when the UK leaves the EU…”
This is certainly untrue and could constitute discrimination and unfair dismissal. The government initially proposed under the, now rejected, Withdrawal Agreement, all EU nationals resident in the UK by December 2020 had the right to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme. This would give them settled status, or ‘pre-settled status’ if they had lived in the UK for less than 5 years.
The EU Settlement Scheme opens on 30 March 2019 and must be applied for on an individual basis by each employee. Under the previously proposed Withdrawal Agreement, EU citizens would be able to enjoy their EU free movement rights in the UK including the right to work, until the end of 2020.
If a no-deal Brexit happens then there will be no two-year transition period. However, the government has confirmed that it will still continue with the Settlement Scheme for all EU citizens albeit with some important changes. The Scheme will only apply to EU citizens and their family members who are residing in the UK by 29 March 2019. They must also apply to the Scheme by December 2020, rather than June 2021.
“Because EU National employees have to apply for settled status themselves, I have no responsibilities…”
As an employer, you still have a duty to make sure everyone working for you has the right to do so in the UK. The Home Office has advised that all employers communicate the application process and deadlines for applying under the Settlement Scheme ahead of time.
If you’re unsure as to the exact number of EU nationals you have working for you, you can use HR records and contracts of employment as a way to try and keep track. Or if you use an online management platform, such as Citation’s Atlas platform, this can provide an overall snapshot for you.
If a no-deal Brexit transpires the Settlement Scheme will only apply to EU citizens and their family members who are residing in the UK by 29 March 2019.
“Employment law is going to fundamentally change when we leave the EU…”
This isn’t necessarily true. A lot of European law has been incorporated into UK law, for example, the TUPE Regulations, Agency Worker Regulations and the Working Time Directive. Unless a law is actively repealed, then the UK will still have to abide by those laws.
While some employment laws and regulations have come to the UK through the EU – many of our significant employment laws originated in the UK anyway, such as unfair dismissal rights, workplace discrimination and the National Minimum Wage.
The same legal position would apply in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
“Irish citizens have to apply for settled status to continue living and working in the UK…”
Irish nationals have rights and entitlement to live and work in the UK protected by the Common Travel Area (CTA). Established in 1923, it’s an open borders area agreement that regulates arrangements between the UK and Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, including free movement and employment.
That means that no Irish citizens will be required to apply for settled status to continue to live, work or study, access social security and public services in the UK. This is applied on a mutual basis to UK citizens living and working in Ireland.
Irish nationals in the UK and UK citizens in Ireland will be fully protected under the Common Travel Area regardless of a no-deal situation.
Managing your workforce in the face of uncertainty can be a daunting task, but not an impossible one. Citation’s Head of HR & Employment Law Gillian McAteer comments;
“We’re facing a time of great uncertainty when it comes to Brexit, but there are still important steps employers can take to protect their business and plan for the future.”
With the help of Citation’s team of expert HR & Employment Law advisors, we can guide you through the process step-by-step.
If you’re a Citation client, remember, we’re 24/7 on our advice line. And if you’re not yet, just enter your details in the form above and we’ll be in touch.
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