With the current uncertainty about our departure from the European Union, how do you know what’s best for your business – and what steps you should take next? A new initiative is here to help...
As things currently stand, the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) have agreed to extend Article 50 until 31 October. Under the terms of this extension, the UK could still leave the EU at an earlier date if a withdrawal agreement is approved but could also still leave the EU without any withdrawal agreement.
Further delays remain possible, and the UK may enter a transition period once it does leave the EU. This means citizens of the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland would still be able to live, work and study in Scotland via free movement, until the transition period ended. In addition, a new UK immigration system would come into effect.
Preparing your business for Brexit
The Prepare for Brexit campaign is a joint approach being delivered by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland, supported by a range of other organisations including Business Gateway and VisitScotland.
Through its website, businesses are being encouraged to start planning, or continue to prepare, for Brexit by making use of the following resources:
Using the online Brexit self-assessment tool and 12-point Brexit checklist to identify the likely exposure to Brexit risks and opportunities
Attending one of the many Brexit events and webinars across Scotland to get expert advice
Finding information and support about workforce, trade, investment and intellectual property issues
Asking a question online or by calling 0300 303 0661 if answers can’t be found anywhere else
Applying for a Brexit Support Grant to help with Brexit preparations.
All these resources can be found at www.prepareforbrexit.scot
In terms of workforce planning, businesses should understand if their current and/or future workforce is likely to be impacted by the UK leaving the EU. Businesses should be aware of the following three policy changes
that may impact their workforce:
1. EU Settled Status and Pre-Settled Status
All EU, EEA or Swiss citizens currently living in the UK must register under the EU Settlement Scheme. The length of time individuals have lived in the UK will determine what status they apply for. So if they’ve lived in the UK for five or more consecutive years they can apply for Settled Status. And if they’ve been here less than five years, they can apply for Pre-Settled Status.
The UK Government has created an employer toolkit to help equip businesses with the right information to support citizens and their families applying to the EU Settlement Scheme.
The UK Government’s employer toolkit is available at bit.ly/Brexit_toolkit
2. New immigration process
The UK Government is currently developing a new immigration
system for the UK based on the Immigration White Paper that was published in December. This new system is anticipated to come into practice for EU, EEA or Swiss citizens following the end of any potential transition period.
This means an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen moving to Scotland to live, work and/or study after the end of the transition period may need to apply for a visa.
If you’re looking to employ an EU, EEA, Swiss or international citizen, you’ll need to ensure that both the
job vacancy and individual meet the requirements of the new system.
Information about the current visa process is available at bit.ly/Brexit_visas
3. Workplace Rights
The UK Government has committed not to change existing policy on workplace rights after Brexit.
The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 brings EU directives concerning workplace rights into UK law, meaning that workers in the UK will continue to be entitled to the rights they had pre-Brexit.
Any new legislation changing those laws will be assessed as to whether they uphold this commitment. Additionally, UK Parliament will be given a vote on whether future changes to EU directives should be adopted into UK law.
Stay in Scotland campaign
The Scottish Government has launched a campaign and package of support to encourage EU citizens
to remain in Scotland after the UK leaves the EU.
The Stay in Scotland campaign includes a guide for employers and a fact sheet which contains information on the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme, details of the application process and its requirements, plus links to other useful resources.
You can read the Stay in Scotland campaign guide for employers at bit.ly/Brexit_guide
The fact sheet can be found at bit.ly/Brexit_sheet
By Sarah Hunt,
Key Sector Development Executive, Skills Development Scotland