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Brexit Update: what should businesses be doing right now? 

With just 43 days to go until the transition period expires, do you feel ready for Brexit?  Here are some pointers on what you should be considering ensuring that you are fully prepared for 1 January 2021.


  1. Anybody who arrives in the UK to work  after 31 December 2020 will need a visa.  This means that they will need to have a UK sponsor and associated job offer in line with the new immigration rules.  Now is the time to review your 2020 headcount requirements so that you can determine whether you need to start the application process to become a sponsor.  The Home Office are expecting great demand from new applications and given the challenges with Covid-19 it will be vital to apply sooner rather than later.
  2. When planning your 2020 headcount and resource requirements make sure you budget for increased costs that are associated with recruiting from outside of the UK.
  3. As part of your headcount planning, talk to your recruitment team about the wider range of jobs which can be sponsored as a result of changes to the immigration rules.
  4. Consider the use of apprenticeships, and Kickstart placements.  Utilising these schemes may be a more effective recruitment strategy especially if your sector relies heavily on the recruitment of EU nationals.
  5. One aspect of headcount planning will be to consider who in your workforce is an EU national because if they wish to continue living and working in the UK after Brexit, then they must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.  An employer cannot require their employee to apply, however, it is reasonable for an employer to open dialogue with their EU national to understand their situation in order that the business can plan accordingly.  Monitor the progress of their situation and as long as they are living in the UK by 31st December 2020 they have until 30 June 2021 to apply for Settled/Pre-Settled Status.  After 30 June 2021 if an existing EU employee has not applied to the EU Settlement scheme then it will become unlawful for them to continue living in the UK and for you to continue employing them.
  6. Consider the roles within your organisation that travel to Europe on a regular basis.  Depending on the European country that they will be travelling to, will determine how long the trip can be before a visa will be required.  Each country has their own defined time limits for allowing a visa free business trip.  Now is a good time to understand what European travel occurs within your business and to which countries so that you can understand how long it is before a visa will be necessary.
  7. Create a business contingency plan to address possible eventualities such as employees not choosing to apply to the EU settlement scheme, delays in visa processes due to the pandemic etc.
  8. Developing an effective retention strategy is vital if your business relies heavily on the recruitment of EU nationals.  The new points-based immigration system will lead to higher recruitment costs, and perhaps longer recruitment processes.
  9. Review your company policies to ensure that any reference to EU legislation is replaced by reference to UK laws.  One example is the use of GDPR versus the Data Protection Act 2018.
  10. Finally, communicate to the business at all levels what your business is doing to prepare for Brexit, as this will help to maintain confidence and stability.   

HR Support

As part of our service offering to you we have the Brexit Risk and Compliance Audit to help identify and minimise risks for your business.  Falling foul of your legal obligations as an employer could result in a high level of compensation fees for your organisation.  This free risk audits will help you to minimise risks for your organisation.  It takes about 15 minutes to complete and you will then automatically receive a report, via email, with an actionable  report for your organisation.  Start your Brexit Risk Audit.

You can also watch our two recent webinar recordings, on demand, for further HR guidance:

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