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General Brexit Guidance - Cobalt HR

November 26, 20200

Since 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom has formally ceased its membership in the European Union. A transitional period is now in place until the end of 2020 whilst longer-term trade and immigration arrangements are worked out. Businesses should take appropriate steps to plan for and support their workforce. Our resources and guidance to help you do this can be found in this dedicated document. Throughout this document, you will find links to relevant webpages and toolkits, provided either by the UK government, or by other certified bodies (e.g. the CIPD; ACAS).

Many HR and leadership teams are focusing their efforts on addressing the uncertainty within their organisations whilst also planning for a variety of post-Brexit scenarios. Whatever the outcome, it could have a direct and immediate impact on a considerable number of people. If your company has operations in the UK and employs people from different EU States, your business could be impacted, causing concern amongst your workforce.

In both cases you need to be prepared to manage a people process that:

· Manages longer-term HR issues.

· Seeks to create a positive mindset.

· Addresses the immediate as details emerge throughout an extended negotiation process.

Consider areas of interest such as:

· Clarity around the hiring of British and European nationals in each respective market beyond January 1st, 2021.

· The status of employees – EU nationals employed in the UK.

· Ability to source additional labour needs at peak/seasonal periods.

· Attraction and retention of key talent.

· Impact on global mobility and UK business ability to move staff where needed.

· Passporting of professional qualifications.


What are the key dates that professionals must be mindful of?

· 31 January 2020: UK formally leaves the EU and the beginning of a transitional period. EU/EEA/Swiss nationals retain existing free movement rights in the UK and vice versa until end of 2020.

· Spring 2020: UK Government announces final post-Brexit immigration policy.

· 31 December 2020: End of the transitional period.

· 1 January 2021: New immigration system introduced.

· 30 June 2021: Extended deadline for settled status applications for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens who are located in the UK before 1 January 2021.

What happens if a deal between the UK and EU is not agreed by 31st December 2020?

If the UK and EU fail to sign an agreement on their future relationship, then on 1 January 2021 the UK will be left to trade with the EU on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms, which is the same as a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. However, new immigration rules may come into effect in this scenario.

What do I do if I have EU citizens working in my organisation? Support EU/EEA/Swiss nationals and their families to apply for settled or pre-settled status under the European Settlement Scheme (EUSS) by 30 June 2021. If unsure, first find out how many affected workers you have in this category. Ensure they receive the support and information they need.

Can I inquire my employees that are also EU citizens about their intentions with regard to the EU Settlement Scheme?

Yes. Make sure you have this conversation with your employees, whilst also keeping their welfare in mind. Brief your managers to have a simple one-to-one conversation with their team members to find out how they are feeling about the UK leaving the EU. Ask if settlement status has been applied for, for them and their family, and provide the offer of help to navigate the process and complete the online application. EU citizen staff who are already in the UK or arrive before 1 January 2021 can continue to work without needing to show settlement status until 1 July 2021. EU citizens who enter the UK for work from 1 January 2021 will need to meet the UK’s post-Brexit migration requirements.

What is the EU Settlement Scheme? EU/EEA/Swiss citizens will have to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme by June 2021, where they will be granted settled or pre-settled status. Settled status will be given to those who have lived continuously in the UK for five years and enable the holder to remain in the UK indefinitely. Pre-settled status will be given to those who do not yet have five years’ continuous residence. Individuals with pre-settled status can apply for settled status once they have accrued five years’ continuous residence. The application process can be done via any mobile device or computer.

Will recruiting non-EU workers change under the new immigration system?

The new system will make it easier to recruit non-EU citizens compared with the current system. Key advantages of the new system include:

· Removal of the migration cap, which removes the risk of a visa application being refused due to over-subscription.

· Streamlining the recruitment process from 14 weeks to around 4 weeks, which includes a government commitment to process the substantial majority of visas within 2-3 weeks.

· Lowering the minimum skill threshold from RQF Level 6 (graduate-level occupations) to RQF Level 3-5 (A-Level occupations).

What will the new immigration system mean for right to work checks for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens?

There will be no need to repeat checks for existing employees from 1 January 2021 when the new immigration system is introduced. However, new employees are likely to need evidence of settled status, pre-settled status, or a visa.

What implications will the new immigration system have for movement between the UK and Ireland?

Irish and UK citizens will be able continue to travel freely for business travel and to live and work between both countries under the Common Travel Agreement (CTA). Irish nationals currently working in the UK will not need to apply for settled status in the UK.

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