Jill Evans, Legal Online Content Editor at CIPD and Ally Weeks, Learning and Development Consultant at CIPD provide advice on how to plan for business and workforce continuity ahead of Brexit.
The political storm surrounding Brexit shows no sign of abating, but businesses must keep going, even if EU departure dates continue to pass by. In a crisis, organisational or national, it’s an HR professional’s job to advise the business on how best to minimise any negative impact on its workforce. HR should be concentrating now on supporting its EU workers and maintaining open communication with the whole workforce about the developing situation.
Organisations may find themselves starved of investment because of Brexit, and dealing with the issue in the longer term could involve steeper recruitment costs, higher wage bills, and possibly business relocations and redundancies. In the short term, HR should be carrying out Brexit continuity planning, just as they would in order to prepare for extreme weather, transport problems or any other unusual circumstances affecting operational capability.
Initially HR should identify via an audit any EU employees that are affected by Brexit and offer to help any of those employees who need to take action to maintain their right to live and work in the UK.
The government’s EU Settlement Scheme is now fully open, having been previously only available in pilot form. All EU, EEA and Swiss workers in the UK need to register on it, even if they already have permanent leave to remain. Only Irish citizens are exempt, because their existing rights to live and work here will continue after Brexit. EU citizens who have been here for five years can apply for settled status; those who have been here for a shorter period should apply for pre-settled status.
Both pre-settled and settled status give EU workers the same rights available under free movement. They can:
- Work in the UK
- Use the NHS
- Enrol in education or continue studying
- Access benefits and pensions (subject to eligibility)
- Travel in and out of the UK.
Initially there was a fee of £65 to register with the scheme but this has now been dropped, so any employers that have already paid for their employees’ registration will get a refund.
The process is fully digital, should take about 30 minutes and needs to be completed using any Android phone with NFC scanning technology (the applicant doesn’t have to be the owner of the phone). The app will run on tablets or laptops and will be accessible on iPhones by the end of 2019. Applicants who need help using the online app can use the government’s assisted digital service, and a facility for scanning documents is available at various locations around the country.
The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021 if the UK leaves with a withdrawal deal, or 31 December 2020 if there’s a no-deal Brexit.
A new skills-based immigration system for the UK will be phased in from January 2021 and from 1 July 2021, employers will need new right-to-work procedures to check that any EU employee has settled or pre-settled status, or a visa, allowing them to work in the UK.
The CIPD’s Festival of Work (12-13 June 2019, Olympia London, www.festivalofwork.com) promises to be a landmark event for both people professionals and business leaders. By focusing on the most innovative strategies in management, technology and learning, the festival will help you, and 7,000 of your colleagues, to harness the latest transformations and drive a human future of work. With 7,000+ attendees, 160+ inspiring speakers, filled with inspirational live experiences and challenging ideas, it’s the ultimate celebration of people in the workplace.
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