Bring Back Brexit (Easy for you to say!)
1 year ago
Brexit – There was an immediate response to the news that “the UK was to leave the EU”. In order of appearance:
- BBC report the result.
- Facebook and other social media platforms explode with a mix of jubilation and disappointment.
- I get a text from my (German) mother noting her concerns.
- I receive a petition requesting a second referendum.
- Emails from law firms flood my inbox confirming the news … that nothing will change for at least 2 years (legally speaking).
- The petition reaches the required 100,000 signatures.
- The value of the pound drops.
- Prime Minister David Cameron says he will step down.
- EU leaders insist that the Brexit is done swiftly.
Safe to say that it was an eventful day. Based on a plethora of rhetoric from both sides, the population has spoken.
Sovereignty and the right to choose our laws
I guess it is not quite true what I said about the law firms reassurances that “nothing” will change, the speed with which the changes will sweep through will be determined by the law makers. It is difficult to see any drastic changes to employment laws for example. As flawed as the Agency Workers Directive may be for some, the intention behind it is good and should not raise any queries. Much like those other “daft” Euro laws such as anti-discrimination laws, paid leave, aspects of parental leave and holiday entitlement. One positive aspect may well be that a different approach will be adopted now in relation to the Lock decision…
Necessary changes that individuals and businesses will need to make can only be determined when those laws are actually passed or repealed. So if you were to ask a lawyer about this, they may say: “it is a difficult question with many possible answers”.
The immigration issue
Square One operates in the international recruitment sector. We place highly skilled permanent staff and independent contractors, and we have taken for granted this freedom that we can place such skilled individuals within the EU without curtailment (caveat: save for obligations of registration, taxation and other local requirements). Now, we are not sure what the future holds for those EU citizens that are here currently and those that we may no longer have access to. I hope that, as a minimum, those individuals here will retain their rights to remain unfettered. Will we see the introduction of an EU Tier 1 – highly skilled visa? Will it be a points based system? How will the EU states restrict movement for UK nationals?
For those that are already here, the advice appears to be…get your right to stay sorted as soon as possible. From an employer’s perspective, it would be worth considering the sponsorship route and looking at the possibility of moving relevant staff to a Tier 2 (and possibly Tier 3) model. But nobody can say with certainty because this was not clarified at the start.
Another relevant and current topic is that of the General Data Protection Regulation, with two distinct “concerns”:
1. Will we continue with adopting the GDPR with all its 200 pages worth of EU eccentricity (the right to be forgotten, the hefty potential for a €20m penalty, concepts of consent)?
2. Will the UK still be considered a safe third country?
It is hard to imagine a business that does not handle data and even harder to find an individual that does not think that their data should be afforded high levels of protection by the law. If we do not adopt the GDPR, I would imagine that something similar must be put in place so as to ensure we are considered a safe country.
The GDPR was originally set to take off in 2018. Best advice would appear to be to continue as if it still will.
One thing that this referendum has surprised me about myself is that I consider myself to be more European than I thought. Previously, I would not have hesitated to confirm my status as English (with a bit of German and Scottish). I can’t help but feel that this has been a decision based on belief and emotion rather than genuine fact. As noted above, there are a number of experts out there that have commented in far greater detail and much more eloquently – but the bottom line is:
Let’s see what happens over the next two years.