Will Brexit affect your employees?

ALMOST HALF (48%) OF YORKSHIRE BUSINESS LEADERS DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW THE BREXIT PROCESS WILL AFFECT EMPLOYEES

  • Two thirds (66%) of local businesses currently employ staff from the EU
  • Two fifths (38%) would be put off employing someone from the EU post-Brexit

A study by Yorkshire-based Blacks Solicitors has found business leaders in the region don’t feel confident in communicating the forthcoming changes to employees’ rights during Brexit1. A quarter (25%) revealed they feel underprepared, and a further 45% say they are worried about leaving the EU.

In addition, almost half (48%) said they have limited or no understanding of how the Brexit process will affect their business and the implications for workers’ rights, under new upcoming immigration laws.

When it comes to cities within Yorkshire, business leaders in York are the most worried about the changes (44%), closely followed by Leeds (43%), Bradford (40%), Hull (30%) and Sheffield (26%)2.

With two thirds (66%) of businesses in Yorkshire currently employing staff from the EU, the research also shows the recruitment process could be significantly affected. Almost two-fifths (38%) of Yorkshire business leaders say they would be put off employing someone from the EU after the immigration laws change. A fifth (20%) are also concerned the recruitment process will become lengthier, and 13% think it will be more costly.

46% of businesses said they don’t have a dedicated HR function, so unsurprisingly local leaders are unclear when it comes to whose responsibility it is to communicate the changes, with almost half (46%) saying they don’t think the Home Office is doing enough.

The study also revealed it’s not only employees from the EU that will be affected, with almost one in ten (8%) business leaders saying salaries for all staff are likely to decrease. Capacity and resource could also become problematic, with almost a quarter (23%) saying they are not confident they would be able to replace EU workers with suitable British workers after Brexit.

Louis MacWilliam, Immigration expert at Blacks Solicitors LLP said: “With less than seven months to go until Britain leaves the EU, it is worrying that such large numbers of employers still feel in the dark about their ability to retain and recruit EU nationals. This is in spite of the Home Office publishing concrete details about the new mandatory registration scheme for EU nationals, due to open later this year.”

Looking at which city is home to the least confident business leaders, those in Sheffield came out top with over half (54%) saying they don’t feel prepared, closely followed by Leeds (40%), Bradford (30%), Hull (23%) and York (22%)3.

Louis continued, “Yorkshire businesses rely heavily on EU labour and employers can play an important role in securing the rights of their EU employees. This includes ensuring employees are aware of any eligibility to apply for British citizenship or EU documentation before we leave the EU, as well as the new mandatory system of registration for EU nationals.

Huddersfield-based DirectBlinds.co.uk employs several EU nationals but is one business that has already started preparing for Brexit. David Roebuck, Managing Director at the firm commented: “Whilst we don’t foresee any issues, we will provide our support to ensure our employees’ long-term rights are protected. We will start by making sure everyone is up to speed with the new registration scheme, ahead of March 2019, and it’s reassuring to know Blacks Solicitors is on hand should we need any legal advice.

“It’s great to hear DirectBlinds.co.uk is already planning ahead for this and we would encourage other businesses to do the same”, Louis adds. “Employers can keep abreast of recent changes by signing up for regular Home Office email updates about the status of EU nationals4. Employers can seek advice from legal immigration experts, on how best to secure the rights of EU employees, including eligibility for British citizenship.  They can also review the current migrant workforce to allow for more effective long-term recruitment planning and to help mitigate risk around Brexit.”