Brexit and HR – the wider picture

The outcome of last year’s referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU has had a significant impact on many aspects of business, but it is fair to say that few professionals have had quite so many potential changes to digest and tackle as those operating within the HR arena.

And regardless of whether you are responsible for overseeing the staffing needs of a large international organisation, or a small independent company employing only a handful of local employees, the official decision to ‘leave’ has no doubt left you with many questions; both regarding the here and now, as well as what the future has in store.

Here, experts from within our HR Recruitment Division provide some insight into the top topics to bear in mind during the coming months and years, as the UK progresses along its Brexit journey.

Data:

This is an ideal opportunity to think about what data you currently hold on your workforce, as well as how you hold it.  Not only will this help to ensure you have all of the necessary information to hand regarding your employees as and when changes are announced, but also that you are not in breach of any data protection legislation that exists from site to site.

Access to EU talent:

First and foremost it is important to recognise that, for the time being, the UK remains part of the EU and free movement continues to apply. Legal experts may warn that any decision not to give employment to an individual because of uncertainty about their immigration status will amount to race discrimination.

It is also important to highlight that as of April 2017 employers will be required to pay an additional charge on top of existing visa fees when sponsoring foreign workers.

Employee rights:

When it comes to employee rights it is worth noting that EU laws are made up of rights and protections that were already embedded in UK law long before we became part of the European Union. Good examples of this include equal pay and race and disability discrimination, all of which were in place here before they were made a wider EU staple.

To that end, it is worth keeping such issues on the agenda, so to speak, but there is nothing to suggest there are major changes afoot… yet.

Communication:

Whether you are directly involved in communicating key updates to your staff, which may or may not be the case depending on the size of your organisation and whether that particular task is allocated to a dedicated PR, the chances are that you will be responsible for helping to craft certain announcements.

In your role as a HR representative no doubt your staff are a huge priority for you, and whilst you may be busy ‘doing the do’ behind the scenes, try not to underestimate the importance of communicating that to the team around you.

Most people are aware of Brexit, and whilst they are aware that changes are afoot the easiest way to ensure that everyone is aware of what it means for them individually and collectively is to open the lines of communication. Consider issuing regular updates, and no doubt an open door policy so that anyone with any questions can come forward accordingly, would be well received.

Social stance:

When considering how you communicate the impact of Brexit to the staff within your organisation, you may also want to use this opportunity to revisit certain policies including ‘employee social media use’.

Everyone is likely to have their own opinion on whether the UK was right or wrong to vote ‘leave’, but a quick reminder to all to ensure that no one is potentially damaging the official stance (or indeed reputation) of the business or relaying confidential information via an ill thought through tweet or Facebook post might be prudent.

Not only will this limit any potential repercussions amongst domestic and international clients, but it will also help to limit any potential conflicts internally.

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