Employment and Brexit - Tips and guidance from our favourite HR specialist, Sophie Williams
Who would have thought it would be a relief to think about Brexit?
Well, that may be pushing it, but I do have a few clients who are clearly not content with the excitement of the trips to Narnia that we have enjoyed together this year, and want to think more widely about Europe and Brexit.
I do not pretend to be an expert, as in truth the frequent and last-minute trips to Narnia have taken all my time this year, but a few pointers in a brief summary as follows:
1. Government Guidance
We may all be somewhat jaded by Government Guidance, however, I have just done a run-through of the personalised questionnaire that you can run through on the Government Transition Website. Whilst the Website is slightly off-putting as it exhorts us to "Check Change and Go" (Go where? What Change, we can't use change, just Google Pay? Check you have your mask?) in fact it is easy to use; you answer some questions and then the Questionnaire spits out your results, with links to more tailored Guidance. I would suggest that is your first port of call.
2. Employment Legislation
Fear not, you do not need to worry that you will wake up on 1 Jan 2021 in a dystopian barren landscape devoid of the Working Time Directive/ Family Friendly Rights. The reality is that the world of employment law will be entirely unchanged, for now. I emailed you a lovely pretty newsletter on 2 March (back in the day when I had time/energy/interest in making my newsletters look very professional!) which ran through the potential areas for change, but we really do not need to worry about such fripperies for now. I will send that pretty newsletter again, following this email, so you can refresh your memory (and see how a mighty PR machine has fallen).
3. EU Workers
If you employ EU workers, you should be reminding them to review their own situation and either apply for Settled Status, (if they have been in the UK for 5 years by 31 December) or for Pre Settled Status (if they have not been here for 5 years just yet). The deadline for
applications is not until 30 June 2021 but the sooner the better, I would suggest.
In terms of new recruits from the EU, then as of 1 January 2021 free movement across the Eu will of course end, as there will be a new points-based immigration system in place which will introduce job, salary and language requirements. This will apply to new arrivals in the UK from 21 Jan 2021 and new recruits will need to get a visa in advance, and in order to hire eligible employees, you will need a sponsor licence. If you have spotted a diamond of a recruit, who is in the EEA, then it would be worth looking at bringing that recruitment forward, as anyone who is in the UK by 31 December 2020 is then able to remain under the settlement scheme and would be able to apply for pre-settled status.
4. Travelling to Europe
If you/your employees travel to Europe, then you do need to check Passports asap. They need to be less than 10 years old and have more than 6 months to run on them by the date of travel.
If you/your employees need to drive within Europe, then keep a close eye on the documents required. It is not yet clear What "additional paperwork" may be needed, or if an IDP (International Driving Permit) will be required, but there is some comfort to be drawn from the fact that no EEA country currently requires IDPs for stays shorter than 12 months.
You will need insurance, ie the old green card system sounds back in, and to make us all want to wave a Union Jack out of the Window, we will be back to the good old days of needing GB Stickers on our cars. Very old Skool. No bulldog required, although there is a real fixation with transporting dogs in the questionnaire so maybe that will become a requirement going
forward? Who knows what 2021 may bring after such a knock out of a year.
If you are accessing personal data from the EU, eg you are part of a group company with offices in Germany, then you do need to look at the government guidance. Whilst it would be easy to hope that GDPR will disappear into the ether, following the trail of Santa's sleigh, the Government has said that it intends to incorporate GDPR into UK data protection from 1 Jan, boo hiss, so no real change there.
That's all on Brexit for now, as I am trying to keep it simple as you are a medley of businesses with very differing needs in terms of Brexit.
You will be delighted to learn that the wine is mulling, the curing of the wild boar hide is going well for the winter teepee and the cranberries are well and truly set in their jelly.