“People issues” are arguably at the core of the coming trade deal between the U.K. and the remaining E.U. countries.
More than 120 U.K. business and Mobility leaders convened on 15th May to hear more about these matters from public officials and service experts at the insideMOBILITY® Brexit Consortium panel discussion held in the House of Commons in Westminster.
In his opening remarks at the session, Lord Callanan, Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union, focused on the themes of reassurance and the continuity of close trade and commerce relationships with European countries.
Lord Callanan also expressed reassurance that in the post-Brexit era, the U.K. will benefit from being able to ratify its own unilateral trade agreements with countries around the world and he assured the attendees that:
- The Government was in sync with the global business community in support of free trade
- E.U. citizens currently in the U.K. would have access to a streamlined process to apply to continue to work in the U.K.
- No one would be forced to leave the country
Lord Callanan’s address set the tone for the ensuing discussion focused on the impact of Brexit on global Mobility programmes. The panel included Mobility experts:
- Ben Wilkins from PwC
- Beverly King of Graebel
- Emily King representing BAL Europe
- Nicole Milman of BD
- Jonathan Hearn from DLA Piper
During the presentations and discussions, the participants emphasised the need for U.K. companies to:
- Conduct impact assessments based on possible scenarios – ranging from the orderly agreement and transition described by Lord Callanan to a deal falling through at the last minute and a chaotic environment in March 2019
- Communicate with employees. Even if answers aren’t apparent yet, assure them you are aware of and planning for alternative scenarios. Assure them that employment continuity is a primary goal. Don’t simply refer them to outside sources for answers – e.g., a Government website.
- While complying with GDPR privacy protections, compile solid information about your U.K. employees and their work status. Don’t make hiring decisions at this time based on an applicant’s home country as that could be seen as discriminatory.
- Gain a competitive advantage in the new environment by planning to exploit a “readiness advantage” in terms of access to goods, labour and capital services when Brexit is implemented
- Engage with the Government on skills needs and shortages you have as a company
By show of hands, the attendees indicated they were more concerned about Brexit policy impacts on skilled labour than on unskilled labour. Regarding this, Emily King said, “Employees have been understandably concerned about what their future in the U.K. looks like. Companies have been understandably worried about their existing workforce. Companies need to make more of a case for needing low-skilled migration as well as high-skilled migration.”
Near the end of the session, Jonathan Hearn added a sobering observation, “Many organisations are in denial about Brexit and think it won’t happen. They need to understand the huge range of possible consequences. Brexit is on the horizon.”
This conversation will continue, and we encourage you to join in by using #IMBrexit to view posts and share your own thoughts.
About The Brexit Consortium
The Brexit Consortium aims to drive discussion among Senior Global Mobility and HR teams when considering the impact of Brexit on all areas of their Mobility programme planning, including Tax, Immigration, Employment Law and Relocation. Read related articles and join the conversation on social media with #IMBrexit.
insideMOBILITY, presented by Graebel, features global events and forums designed to help professionals from Global Mobility, HR, C&B and Reward become better at their jobs. In these forums, key people in the industry from around the region meet with their peers, share ideas and connect with industry experts.