When the referendum in 2016 determined that the UK was to leave the European Union in 2019, this naturally set off a chainreaction of questions and doubts across the nation.
But from an HR point of view, what are the things you need to consider and prepare for, in order to ensure that your company will survive it in the post-Brexit world?
Why would HR need to worry about Brexit?
While your business-management department might at this moment be swamped with paperwork and trade-deals to ensure the business will flow steady after the exit, the HR department has to look inside of the company in order to adapt to the new changes.
Brexit won’t just affect the economy and trade, it has a big affect on the people in your company as well. Therefore it is necessary to look at the structure of your company, find out if you have any staff-members who are living and working in the UK on an EU-passport and if so, ensure that their settlement application is filled out and processed in time.
It is also important to be aware that if you have staff members from EU they might be considering leaving the UK because of the Brexit, you should speak with all of them and offer to help them with the processing of paperwork and costs that may apply, as well as giving advise on how Brexit might affect them.
With many EU-citizens leaving the UK since the referendum, and many less arriving to the UK to work, it is crucial to retain the talent that are already in your company. If you lose many staff members due to Brexit it will be much harder to find the talent necessary to replace them.
In particular the construction, cleaning and food preparation industries rely heavily on workforce who are currently here on an EU-passport.
Important deadlines for Brexit
People are still allowed to arrive to and stay to live and work in the UK on an EU-passport up until 31st December 2020, and the last date to apply for settlement in the UK is the 30th of June 2021. These 6 months is an added grace period, for anyone who was not able to apply for settlement before December 2020.
Different strategy for a no-deal Brexit
Because of the imminent risk that there might be a no-deal Brexit, there are a few more things to be aware of and to keep in mind. In the case of a no-deal Brexit, the final date for when people are free to arrive to the UK on an EU-passport will be whatever date that the UK leaves the EU, which as of the latest update would be on 31st October 2019.
The grace period for settlement application would no longer apply and the final date for applications will instead be on the 31st of December 2020.
Because of these circumstances, I would recommend you to start the application process sooner rather than later.
Checklist for HR prior to Brexit
Create a positive mindset
This might sound a bit corny, however it is beneficial that HR talks about Brexit in a positive way and highlighting the benefits. Staff members with an EU-passport might be worried about the uncertainties and whether they will be able to stay or not. Reassure your team that there is no need to worry and that you instead will help them adapt to the changes and take advantage of new opportunities that it may bring.
Even though you should be talking about this in a positive way, you should still be honest. If it will be affecting your business and staff in a significant way, be open with your teams and be prepared to respond to any questions and doubts they might have.
Ask your employees to send their settlement applications ASAP
Give your EU-staff members the opportunity to send their applications for settlement during working hours. Arrange a gathering to help with their applications best you can. Applications can be sent from an app for Android phones (unfortunately, it does not work from iPhones as of yet) or a computer. They will also need to bring their passports.
Update your annual HR strategy
Maybe you already took Brexit in to consideration when first creating your HR Strategy for 2019, however it is still recommended to go over it again and update with any recent changes. In particular if you know of any staff members that are considering leaving the UK you need to take action quickly to find a replacement. As mentioned above, finding and retaining talent is key.
Review your compensation schemes
Even if Brexit will not affect your business economically it is recommended to do a review of the staff compensation. Salary-increases for the next year, any budget-cuts or savings that need to be put in to place, bonuses and incentives.
Staff Benefits – Holidays, maternity leave and working time
Employee rights which have previously been regulated by the EU will now be easier to adapt to each company individually, while still following UK regulations of course. This is not an urgent task and you might not want to change any of your current staff benefits, but it is still important to keep in mind.
A free tool for managing your HR tasks while saving time
A good tool or system for HR is essential in order to always be up to date on employee data and their workforce, as well as for planning the next steps and take quick, but well grounded, decisions.
Factorial HR is a free software for HR which will ease this process for HR departments and management.
To help you get started with your Brexit checklist, have a look at the info provided from gov.uk below: