• Brexit: the impact on your workforce

    Published: February 13 2020

    In last month’s article, we looked at the HR focus for your organisation in the coming year, which included the impact of Brexit on the workforce. Here we explore the topic in more detail.

    On 31 January 2020 the UK exited the European Union (EU), marking the beginning of a transition period until 31 December 2020 which will give the UK time to negotiate additional arrangements with the EU.

    With the introduction of immigration restrictions due on 1 January 2021, some organisations may already be planning in order to minimise disruption. It’s understandable that some employers will be concerned about the availability of workers, so we’ve detailed some key points that may need to be considered.

    EU Settlement Scheme

    If your current workforce has EU/EEA/Swiss employees then these employees and their family members (including non-EU citizens) need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to continue to live, work and study in the UK. This also applies to those who have lived in the UK for many years or have a permanent residence document. The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021. You can make your employees aware of this or remind them not to miss the deadline for application.

    In addition, if your organisation is UK based and employs EU/EEA/Swiss citizens who need to travel to the UK for work, then they will need to comply with the new business visitor rules in the UK. National ID cards may no longer be accepted for entry to the UK for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens after 1 January 2021. You will need to ensure that these employees have the correct documentation to travel to the UK.

    If you are thinking of recruiting from the EU/EEA/Switzerland to the UK then possibly do so prior to 31 December 2020 and provide support to them to apply for pre-settled status under EUSS.

    UK employees in the EU

    If you employ UK citizens who are based in or travel to the EU for work, then from 1 January 2021 they will need to comply with EU and national immigration rules such as obtaining relevant visas and work permits, even if working only for a few days.

    Keeping your talent and attracting talent

    Candidates may no longer consider the UK an attractive option for employment, which may lead to a skills and knowledge gap within your organisation. Therefore, it would be beneficial to carry out a training needs analysis of your current workforce to highlight development needs and to ensure continuity and disruption is minimised.

    You may need to review your total reward package and employer branding in order to be seen as an employer of choice which may assist in attracting and retaining talent. You can also restructure work by redefining roles to reduce staff needed in areas of availability shortage.


    During the transition period the recognition of professional qualifications between the EU and UK remains the same, however, future terms for the mutual recognition of professional qualifications after 31 December 2020 will be negotiated during the transition period.

    Therefore, regulated professions that require a set of qualifications may need to be officially recognised in the UK or EU country of work after the transition period if the qualifications were not attained there.

    Business travel – UK to EU

    Some other considerations when travelling for business from the UK to EU from 1 January 2021 should be:

    • British passports will need to have at least six months left and be less than 10 years old (even if it has six months or more left)
    • Arrange for a business visa if necessary
    • Ensure that individuals have the appropriate travel insurance as the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may no longer be valid from 1 January 2021
    • There might a requirement for an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some countries
    • Free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end, therefore you will need to check the roaming charges with your phone operator

    Organisations may not see much change during the transition period, however, you should be utilising this time to prepare for the changes that are due to come into place on 1 January 2021. If you would like assistance with reviewing your current policies or procedures, restructuring your existing workforce, or employer branding then please contact a member of the Kent HR team.

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