Unless there is an agreement to extend the two-year Article 50 period, the UK will be leaving the EU on 29 March 2019. If an agreement is reached before 29 March 2019 then there will a transition period during which most rights will continue. With this uncertainty about which direction Brexit is going to go in, many businesses are unprepared for what is to come, and it can seem daunting about where to find the correct advice.
UK businesses that operate only within the UK will be less impacted than businesses that operate internationally and have cross-border workers. Regardless of where we will be on 30 March 2019, employers can take certain steps in order to get their business and employees ready.
Should the UK leave the EU without a deal, we have compiled a set of questions for employers to work through:
1. Do you know where your employees are based at any point in time?
A) Assess your key employees, where they are working in your business and whether they are likely to be affected by Brexit.
B) Conduct an audit to identify the nationalities of your workers. Which UK nationals are working elsewhere in the EU or Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland? Which nationals from those countries are working in the UK? By identifying employees involved, where they are working, what their rights are and monitoring their immigration status, this will help you to plan for worker mobility restrictions and labour shortages that could result from Brexit. How can you support your workers and their families living in the UK or the EU?
C) Check and monitor immigration status of UK inbound and outbound expatriate workers, the duration of their stay abroad or in the UK and when they can apply for permanent residence or citizenship
2. Do you have visibility on your current and future short/long term assignments and business travellers covering UK and EU countries? How will you deal with the end of freedom of movement?
Consider your future business plans and the impact of Brexit on your international policies and intended business moves.
You should raise awareness of the rules that will apply to them. British passport holders will be able to travel to the EU for up to 90 days but their passports must comply with the Schengen Border Code.
4. Is your compliance team ready to implement social security changes for mobile employees from March 2019?
Currently, there is not much certainty about the impact of social security benefits and contributions in case of a ‘no deal’ scenario. Employers should review the social security status of their mobile workforce and determine if changes to the social security regime will impact your assignment costs, (for example, if switching regimes means that higher social security contributions costs are these costs accrued).
5. What medical coverage will your staff have once the European Heath Insurance Cards are no longer valid?
You should review the terms and conditions of your international medical insurance and travel insurance and consider alternatives if necessary.
6. When are your employment contracts next due for a review?
Consider reviewing these now in light of Brexit, taking into account Brexit strategies (e.g. relocation break clauses)
7. Review data protection provisions in your contracts
If no agreement is in place by March 2019, there will be no immediate change in the UK’s own data protection standards. However if you transfer personal data with EU organisations, you will need to consider alternative legal bases as the UK will be considered a third country. Assess potential action required for continuity e.g. either by using EU model clauses, binding corporate rules, or redirecting the flow of personal data to EU group companies. Here is a useful link on data protection post-Brexit.
They will need to be exchanged before 29 March 2019. UK nationals driving to Europe will also require an international driving permit.
9. Have you been communicating with your employees about Brexit’s implications?
It would be helpful to prepare relevant communications to reassure your staff, providing them with any practical information they will require to continue working.
10. Do you have a European Works Council or are your employees members of trade unions?
If so, you may need to review these agreements in the absence of reciprocal arrangements between the UK and EU.
How we can help?
Please contact us if you would like to discuss the impact of Brexit on your mobile workers. Our services range from helping you understand your compliance obligations in host and home jurisdiction, obtaining certificate of coverage for social security, to drafting your communications.
If you have any queries on how these changes will impact your business, contact our team on +44(0)203 051 5711 or email us.