3 Step HR Advice Guide – Brexit

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst….Really?

What on earth can we expect in 2017 and how can HR leaders prepare?

I’ve recently attended a number of seminars where Legal and HR experts have discussed the evolving Brexit situation. So much jargon and so many unanswered questions. Whether you’re a “Brexiteer” or “remoaner”, when will article 50 be triggered, will it be a hard or soft Brexit, what will it all mean? With so much ambiguity, weekly developments, political and economical debates. It’s hard to keep up…

With scaremongering and mistruths on both sides we need to strip back the drama and look at what the realities are. There is no doubt that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU could lead to huge changes in domestic employment rights and responsibilities but the impact won’t be immediate.

I recently listened to John Taggart BL speak about what Brexit means for NI employment and NI employers. He took a very practical and balanced approach to the potential legal implications and the potential impact on business. I’ve outlined the highlights of his advice below.

Despite the likelihood that any changes will be piecemeal and the result of gradual evolution over the coming months and years, there are a surprisingly low percentage of businesses being proactive. Only 11% of UK businesses are openly communicating with staff about the impact of Brexit (Reference: Mercer UK , Planning for Brexit- Talent Implications)

So what can employers do?

Assess your business’ EU exposure.

1. Audit & Assess

  • Conduct a workforce audit to identify staff where there may be concerns about nationality/passport issues/border issues. Check their length of service, how long until they can apply for permanent residency
  • Identify the parts of your business that are likely to be most affected and susceptible to a “skills gap” and plan ahead for difficult recruitment exercises

2. Communicate & Support

  • Communicate with staff and provide reassurance
  • Discuss future work options, permanent residence/work permits

3. Review

  • Review existing contracts and consider changes to future contracts.
  • Review contracts and handbooks with “neutral terms” to avoid risk. Incorporate statements such as “to the extent required by current law”
  • Many analysts have noted that access to funding could be restricted so, if your business or suppliers rely on EU funding it may be time to start exploring alternative funding solutions and all other possible routes that exist.
  • When drafting commercial contracts – Businesses should consider a “Brexit Clause”. This could serve to protect your business from any adverse consequences arising from an exit.

The demand for information and updates on Brexit is high and frustration amongst Businesses is borne out of uncertainty and a natural cautiousness as to how they will be impacted. The best advice is not to sit idle, follow the key checklist above, face the uncertainty and mitigate!

As you would expect, all opinions provided are my personal views so please seek professional advice.

 

Posted by

Stephanie Mulholland

Stephanie Mulholland

Associate Director - Human Resources

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