Post-Brexit: 5 Questions HR Leaders Should Be Asking
It’s been more than a year since Britain’s referendum on Brexit went before voters, but we still don’t know exactly what a post-Brexit workforce will look like. And with the process expected to take two more years, it may be a long time before employers have any meaningful answers. But even though there’s still a lot we don’t know, asking questions—like the five listed below—is important.
- What industries and organizations will be impacted the most?
- How will Brexit affect my workforce?
- What regulations will Parliament have put in place?
- Which team will be impacted more – HR or Payroll?
- Is it possible Britain won’t actually leave the European Union after all?
Multinational companies that do business in Britain and throughout the European Union are more likely to be affected than companies that do most of their business inside Britain. Because of this, many of these organizations—especially banking and financial services ones like Goldman Sachs—are looking into building up a stronger presence in Continental Europe to ensure business continuity. Brexit will also impact other industries, making globalization more difficult for organizations in agriculture, medicine, automotive manufacturing, tourism and customer service.
Because membership in the European Union allows people to travel freely between other European countries, organizations with a large European workforce are more likely to be impacted than organizations that draw workers predominantly from within Britain. As a result of Brexit regulatory changes, skilled and non-skilled workers of all different incomes could leave Britain’s labor market, either because of uncertainty or in the wake of new immigration restrictions, potentially contributing to a skills gap as a result.
Before Britain separates from the European Union, a whole host of E.U. laws—between 800 and 1,000—will have to be transposed into British law. While that process is underway, it’s still too early to say what will happen to important business regulations, including regulations around data protection and the labor market. These regulations may remain the same to ensure business continuity, but business leaders should also be prepared for them to be strengthened or loosened.
Even though your Payroll team will eventually be impacted by certain legislative or organizational policy changes—especially for multinational companies with employees outside Britain—HR will be impacted before Payroll. If companies are faced with two sets of rules to follow for recruiting and managing employees, HR will face challenges they haven’t faced before, and the consequences—which we don’t know—will eventually trickle down to your Payroll team.
While Prime Minister Theresa May has triggered Article 50, which defines the process for withdrawing from the European Union, some with inside knowledge of current Brexit negotiations, are starting to believe that it may not happen after all. Only time will tell.
With so much uncertainty about whether the UK will leave the EU still in the air, and with an ‘exit-strategy’ process expected to extend well into 2019, it’s important for business leaders to keep questions like these in front of them so that they can be prepared for the future, whatever that future might look like.
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