Brexit’s impacts and challenges to businesses

The looming economic impact of Brexit is the biggest challenge facing small to medium-sized business. The Co-operative Bank recently ran a research survey of UK SME concerns. The main concerns were supplier costs and competition challenges, red tape and regulations. However, the real worries were all about moving forward, growing their business and staff issues.

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Staff happy to work during Brexit

Brexit impacts on your staff

Despite the uncertainties of Brexit, it is certainly time for any employer to take any action when it comes to their people management.

There are currently three million EU nationals working in the UK. If some of them are in your workforce, then they will need to identify their residency and right to work online to immigration under the following scheme of pre-settled or settled status.

To clarify, pre-settled applies to those who have lived and worked for five years or less in the UK and settled means they have lived and worked in the UK for more than five years.

All applicants will need proof of identity and residence in the UK. For ID purposes they’ll need a national passport with a biometric chip. People will also need their National Insurance number. They will receive a unique code number which HR will need to use when verifying that worker’s status on the Government Gateway.

This settlement scheme is currently in a test phase. The application process begins in earnest from 1 November 2019.

HR right to work checks

Right to work checks will change for HR post-Brexit. An EU ID card will no longer be valid. Foreign nationals will need to carry a biometric passport and apply for a visa. HR needs to be aware of what right to work documentation is correct. The home office has a checklist to support this process.

Under the government’s immigration proposals, there will be two new schemes the EU settlement scheme and the new European Leave To Remain (ELTR).

If we leave Brexit with the withdrawal agreement: UK employers can continue to accept EU passports and EU ID cards until 31 December 2020. Afterwards, the ELTR as a full scheme will come into force.

However, ELTR will come in sooner if there is a no-deal Brexit. After 31 October 2019, EU nationals who are not residents can work visa-free for no longer than three months. They will then need to make a fee-based application for ELTR. It is valid for 36 months and cannot switch to the EU settlement scheme afterwards.

From a workforce planning perspective, if you’re looking to employ EU Nationals in the future, after 2020 – or in the case of a no-deal Brexit – there will be a cost. A sponsorship licence currently costs £536 and allows employers to hire foreign nationals.

passport and visa right to work after Brexit

Getting the right visa

To work legally in the UK, you need to apply for a visa. There is the general worker visa (tier 2) five years or more or the temporary worker visa (tier 5) for 12 months. Post-Brexit, requirements to obtain a tier 2 visa are that the employee has a graduate-level degree and the offered salary is above £30,000.

From a mental health perspective, look after your workers, it’s an incredibly stressful time. For EU nationals, make sure they have the right level of guidance and support when applying for the immigration scheme or visas. Moreover, if you have offices in the EU, you will need to find out how UK workers will be treated in that country post-Brexit too.

During this current transition period, it is also an excellent time to review your equality and diversity policies to ensure compliance and scope out the risks. Also, it is vital to update any contracts with workforce agency suppliers.

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