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08 November 2016 · by Beatriz Bailey Brexit – What Employers Need to Know

Impact on UK businesses so far…

Huntress is aware that there is a fair amount of uncertainty for employers surrounding the recent result of the Referendum, and we want to keep you up to date of any changes affecting the recruitment industry as well as providing our own insight as we progress through this transitional period for the UK.

While concerns over Brexit have caused some fluctuations in the employment market, these are short-term reactions to the current climate. According to all official sources within the employment industry, both permanent and temporary vacancies alike in the UK have slowed down slightly in the weeks leading up and following the Referendum, although these changes are not significant enough to have an impact on the market. Most businesses will not see any immediate effect, as any changes as a result of Brexit are still a long way off.

Peter Cheese, CIPD CEO, stressed “Now is not the time for hasty decisions or knee-jerk reactions from government or employers. Evidence suggests that the UK’s flexible labour market already strikes the right balance between providing flexibility for employers and employment rights for workers.”

APSCo predicts that in the longer term we are likely to see permanent vacancies go down and a rise in temporary and contract positions, as companies proceed with caution to establish the full effect of Brexit on their business in the months to come. The areas outlined in both ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ campaigns as the most likely to be impacted by renegotiations between the UK Government and the EU are employment law, immigration and the skilled labour market. However, in a recent announcement from the new Secretary of State for Exiting the EU David Davis has given strong indication that existing employment law will not be radically changed once the UK leaves the EU.

What should you be advising your staff?

Our CEO, Chris Leeson, has reassured and informed Huntress employees of what Brexit will mean for us, as the generalised negativity in the media can cause unnecessary concern to staff. We would advise any of our clients to keep their employees up to date of any new Government negotiations or changes that may affect them, as they happen. For the time being: 

  • We recommend that employees who have been in the UK for over 5 years apply for a permanent residence (this can take up to 6 months) – this is a prerequisite for British citizenship. People who have been living in the UK for less than 5 years can apply for a registration card. This is not mandatory but good practice and maybe beneficial later. 
  • As for employment law, again there will be no short-term impact. We should note that EU law has been adopted into UK law and it’s hard to imagine that future governments would distance themselves from existing policies that previous governments have promoted.
  • European Court of Justice decisions would not be binding for UK courts although it is likely that they would still take account of future ECJ judgments – depending on future negotiations with the EU.
  • Businesses should also be mindful of philosophical belief discrimination. Brexit has caused a lot of controversy and in many ways has divided the country through different political views. We should be mindful of this and ensure we are able to recognise any signs and protect staff against discrimination.

It’s worth noting that the Agency Worker Regulations (AWR) and Working Time Directive (WTD) are policies which originated from the EU and not the UK. Therefore such related legislation in the future might well get reviewed and be more relevant for the UK jobs market. 

Finally, as with any major political or economic change that can affect the labour market, we urge employers not to react impulsively but to stay informed and to work with experts who can offer you a balanced view of the situation. If you have any concerns about future changes to employment law, please contact your local Huntress office as we will be partnering with established law firms to deliver informative seminars around Brexit topics over the coming months. You can also check upcoming events in your area here