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23

Oct 2019

Leaving the EU and what this means for employers and employees

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on 31 October 2019.

EU membership currently impacts work places in several ways, such as:

  • providing goods and services to other members of the EU;
  • using goods and services provided by other members of the EU;
  • employing EU residents;
  • having UK employees work in the EU;
  • many employment rights come from EU directives;
  • court decisions about some employment disputes can be made in the EU courts.

The changes that workplaces will experience will depend on how the UK leaves the EU and the type of future relationship between the UK and the EU. Many UK employment laws around areas such as holidays, agency workers’ rights and business transfers currently come from EU directives.

Will EU directives still apply when the UK leaves the EU?

Under the provisions of the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 (EUWA), EU directives have been written into UK law. The EUWA will come into effect the day after the UK leaves the EU and thereafter, existing EU law will be converted into UK domestic law. It will then be for parliament to decide whether to retain, amend or repeal that domestic legislation. The calculation of holiday pay, TUPE transfers and an introduction of a cap on compensation in discrimination claims have been identified as examples of areas where changes could be made in the future.

Settled Status

As an employer, is your organisation fully prepared for what the UK leaving the EU means for any EU EEA or Swiss citizen you employ? As an employee, are you aware of the need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021?

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. If your application is successful, you’ll get either ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ status. EU citizens who have lived in the UK for five years or more when the UK leaves the EU have the right to work in the UK indefinitely by applying for 'settled status'. EU citizens who have lived in the UK for less than five years before the UK leaves the EU have the right to work in the UK indefinitely by applying for 'pre-settled status' which they can change to 'settled status' when they have lived in the UK for five years or more.

EU citizens who arrive in the UK after Brexit takes place and want to work will be subject to any rules and agreements that are made between the UK and EU. EU citizens who have British, Irish or 'dual' citizenship, or have indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK have the right to work in the UK indefinitely and do not need to apply for 'settled status’.

As an employer, you should be supportive of employees applying for settled status by helping them where they can through the application process. Acas has issued guidance that both employees and employers should consider where they have concerns about the impact that exiting the EU might have on their work and what to do when they may wish or need to speak to one another.

Acas provides that employees should:

  • understand that anything affecting their work is important to their employer too;
  • understand what they need to discuss, or get help and advice if they are unsure;
  • think about what they want to achieve from a discussion with their employer;
  • request some time with their supervisor or manager to discuss their situation in private;
  • take notes about any decisions or actions that need to be taken after any meeting.

Employers (including managers and supervisors) should:

  • understand that it can be difficult for an employee to request a private discussion;
  • be mindful of both their own emotions as well as the emotions of their employee;
  • be ready to find enough time and a private space to encourage an open discussion;
  • be clear about taking decisions or actions, make notes on them, and stick to them;
  • arrange a further discussion if they need time to get extra information or advice.

Are you a UK resident living and working in an EU country?

If you are a UK resident living and working in an EU country, you may need to register or apply for residency in that country. You should also check if you are covered in respect of healthcare and investigate whether you need to change your driving licence.

Our employment lawyers can help you answer any queries you might have in relation to the above, whether you are an employer or an employee.

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