A study by Blacks Solicitors, has found business leaders in the UK don’t feel confident in communicating the forthcoming changes to employees’ rights during Brexit1. A quarter (23%) revealed they feel underprepared, and a further 61% say they are worried about leaving the EU.
In addition, over a third (38%) said they have limited or no understanding of how the Brexit process will affect their business and the implications for workers’ rights, under new upcoming immigration laws.
A quarter (25%) of businesses in the UK currently employ staff from the EU, the research also shows the recruitment process could be significantly affected. Half (50%) of business leaders say they would be put off employing someone from the EU after the immigration laws change. A quarter (25%) are also concerned the recruitment process will become lengthier, and almost a fifth (19%) believe it will become more costly.
30% of businesses said they don’t have a dedicated HR function, so unsurprisingly local leaders are unclear when it comes to whose responsibility it is to communicate the changes, with more than two fifths (42%) saying they don’t think the Home Office is doing enough.
The study also revealed it’s not only employees from the EU that will be affected, with more than one in ten (11%) business leaders saying salaries for all staff are likely to decrease. Capacity and resource could also become problematic, with more than a quarter (26%) saying they are not confident they would be able to replace EU workers with suitable British workers after Brexit.
Louis MacWilliam, Immigration expert at Blacks Solicitors LLP said: “With less than seven months to go until Britain leaves the EU, it is worrying that such large numbers of employers still feel in the dark about their ability to retain and recruit EU nationals. This is in spite of the Home Office publishing concrete details about the new mandatory registration scheme for EU nationals, due to open later this year.
“Businesses rely heavily on EU labour and employers can play an important role in securing the rights of their EU employees. This includes ensuring employees are aware of any eligibility to apply for British citizenship or EU documentation before we leave the EU, as well as the new mandatory system of registration for EU nationals.
Huddersfield-based DirectBlinds.co.uk employs several EU nationals but is one business that has already started preparing for Brexit. David Roebuck, Managing Director at the firm commented: “Whilst we don’t foresee any issues, we will provide our support to ensure our employees’ long-term rights are protected. We will start by making sure everyone is up to speed with the new registration scheme, ahead of March 2019, and it’s reassuring to know Blacks Solicitors is on hand should we need any legal advice.
“It’s great to hear DirectBlinds.co.uk is already planning ahead for this and we would encourage other businesses to do the same”, Louis adds. “Employers can keep abreast of recent changes by signing up for regular Home Office email updates about the status of EU nationals4. Employers can seek advice from legal immigration experts, on how best to secure the rights of EU employees, including eligibility for British citizenship. They can also review the current migrant workforce to allow for more effective long-term recruitment planning and to help mitigate risk around Brexit.”
1 Independent research conducted in June 2018, of 400 UK businesses
(Source: Blacks Solicitors)