NAVIGATING THE CHALLENGING NEW WORLD
The time has come. We live in the post-Brexit era, and there are no more delays, negotiations, and hoping for a different outcome. The UK has left the European Union, but we are only at the beginning of a novel and uncertain landscape.
In a realm where we try to manoeuvre the potential of our worst recession in the last 300 years, the future is full of challenges. Not being a member of the EU any longer means higher costs for companies, job losses, and the new immigration system.
The processes, standards, and rules are changing for everyone, including HR. Even though it might be impossible to be ready enough for what’s coming, recruiting directors and departments should assess the situation and Brexit’s aftermaths. They should analyse current events and laws, anticipate and plan accordingly.
Brexit will inherently leave an impact on the market, employee rights, and skilled talent movement. That will further affect how companies source, attract and manage candidates. HR should ensure that their response aligns with the changes as it will help companies keep a positive outlook, have efficient strategies, and maintain a strong talent pipeline. But to conduct proper analysis, you need all the necessary insights and information. Here is how Brexit will impact HR, what changes are introducing, and what you can do about it.
THE UK-EU TRADE DEAL AND EMPLOYMENT LAW
Right before the UK officially left the EU, they signed a new free trade deal. The outcomes are zero tariffs and zero quotas on all goods that comply with the appropriate rules of origin. Other significant agreements are high levels of environmental protection, tax transparency, joint management of fish stocks, and continued and sustainable transport. But how much is employment law included in the 1,000-page agreement? Both parties agreed to maintain high levels of employment protection without lowering the quality of trade and investment processes between the parties. They will follow the “non-regression” principle, which means increasing labour and social rates of protection.
Neither side can deprive employees of their rights without suffering consequences. If the UK (and vice versa) fails to enforce standards and laws that align with the principle, that will be an act of breaching the agreement.
In theory, these rules sound reasonable. But the UK might not meet these standards with the current system of labour inspections. That creates a need for a comprehensive structure and public body that would carry out employment laws.
Until further alternations, employment law will stay the same, and it will retain the EU law. As long as the UK respects the nonregression principle, it is possible to change it without the EU giving consent.
POINTS-BASED IMMIGRATION SYSTEM
Once 2021 knocked on our doors, the benefit of free movement between the EU and the UK ceased to exist. The Home Office introduced a points-based immigration system for migration to the UK.
Apart from Irish nationals, all candidates and employees will need work permits. Even though the system welcomes highly skilled workers, it discourages those who want to apply for low-skilled or low-paid job positions.
Those companies and job seekers who don’t comply with the laws could face civil penalties, which is why it’s recommendable to analyse the law carefully or seek professional guidance.
Here is how the system concerning foreign workers, functions in the post-Brexit UK.
- Europeans who were living in the UK before the first of January, 2020 are most likely to have the right to stay under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). They can apply for EUSS during the grace period.
- Others, who pretend to work in the UK applying for low-skilled vacancies, need entry permission that gives the right to work. But the process might be too arduous and demanding, making it hard to recruit these job seekers from abroad.
- Foreign employees can also enter the UK as skilled workers if they have an entry permit. Companies can decide to sponsor their visas, but it’s a process that requires bureaucracy.
Every organisation with foreign workers should check whether their employees have the right to work in the UK and if they’re eligible to stay. However, employers are not legally bound to do this or force their staff to apply for EUSS. But they should support employees, provide them with all necessary documents, and help with the application.
If an employer wants to hire foreign workers, they should first consider if they hold a sponsorship license, and if not, can they acquire it. After that, they should check a candidate’s visa eligibility and how to proceed with the process.
Those companies that employ someone without the right to work in the UK can go to jail for five years or pay an unlimited fine.
What does that mean for talent attraction and the future of post-Brexit HR?
TALENT SHORTAGE AND REDUCTION OF FOREIGN EMPLOYEES
The UK is witnessing the largest population decline since WWII and migrants are massively leaving the country. Roughly 1.3 million people left the UK from July 2019 to September 2020. COVID-19 and recession were the final triggers, but it’s Brexit that forced people to leave.
It might be an understatement to say that Brexit made relocating, working, and employing foreign workers challenging. The UK used to attract travellers, job seekers, and organisation from around the world. That gave HR access to top talents from the EU who they could hire with ease.
There is no more freedom of movement. That can make the UK a less desirable place for work because the relocation process now requires visas, health insurance, and bureaucracy. Hence, HR teams can expect to see talent pools shrinking, which means they will have to develop resourcing plans.
Those companies that depend on EU workforce should come up with proper strategies that will address the issue. Recruiters have to find ways to attract EU workers and to ensure that employee benefits and perks outweigh the difficulties of administration requirements.
The key areas HR teams should reinforce are efficient onboarding, employee value proposition (EVP), leadership, and employment law. It is essential to ensure new talents, whether foreign or British workers, provide them with proper training and welcoming, help leadership teams work efficiently, reevaluate EVP and HR policies and align them with the new legislation.
All of the above is going to promote the need for effective social mobility programs, which aim to bring disadvantaged communities of young people into new and exciting prospects for their careers. There are some great organisations out there that are flying the flag of social mobility. Making the leap for example is a charity that is on a mission to transform the futures of disadvantaged young people in the UK by providing training to raise their aspirations and develop their skills, behaviours, and attitudes to choose and succeed in a career. What more can your organisation do to promote social mobility in local areas to you?
It is not easy to navigate our brave new world. But HR professionals are not alone in this untidy post-Brexit realm, and there are channels where they can find and ask for support. Some of them are CIPD and Nibusinessinfo.
I have made this article as a surface level guide to help point you in the right direction if you are looking for information and sources of good quality support for the changes Brexit will present. This is in no way me giving advice, more of a summary to help you condense the nonsense.
Thank you for reading, and stay safe