A new publicity campaign called “Time is running out” is being launched by the Government, urging firms to prepare for the Brexit deadline (1 January 2021). 

The Government are releasing a new campaign which seeks to remind businesses of the imminent Brexit deadline and what they must do to prepare for this new period.

This new campaign is listing all the factors HR must prepare for ahead of the deadline, including:

  • Being ready for new customs procedures for imports and exports to/from the EU
  • Checking if you need a visa or work permit for travelling to the EU for work purposes
  • Preparation for the new immigration system if your company employs overseas nationals
  • Ensuring you can continue to use any personal data you receive from countries in the EEA
  • Checking qualifications are still valid by EU regulations for those providing services to clients within the EU

This follows the collapse of trade negotiations between the UK and the European Union which occurred last week.

On Friday 16th October 2020, the Government officially stated that trade negotiations were “over” without reaching a deal.

In a televised speech, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the reason behind this was due to the EU’s refusal to accept a “Canada-style deal based on friendship and free trade”.

Mr. Johnson said, instead, the EU wanted “the continued ability to control [the UK’s] legislative freedom” which he dubbed “completely unacceptable to an independent country”. Hence, Mr. Johnson announced the UK would be facing “arrangements that are more like Australia’s”, based on simple principles of global free trade.

However, over the weekend, Michael Gove, Minister for the Cabinet Office, announced to the BBC that the door was still “ajar” to further talks if the EU significantly changed its stance.

Mr. Gove further stated:

At the end of this year we are leaving the EU single market and customs union and this means there are both new challenges and new opportunities for businesses.

Make no mistake, there are changes coming in just 75 days and time is running out for businesses to act.

However, Adam Marshall, Director of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:

Many firms will be tired of posturing, cliff edges and deadlines, while others are still grappling with fundamental challenges as a result of the pandemic.

More businesses will undoubtedly step up preparations for change over the coming weeks, but many are still facing unanswered Brexit questions that have a big impact on their day-to-day operations.

Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR, a company offering HR software and employment law advice services, provided advice on how businesses can prepare for this looming deadline:

 Despite the constant rumblings in the press over ongoing negotiations between the UK and the EU, one thing employers must understand is that free movement of persons is to end regardless of any further trade deals ratified between the two parties. This means that from 1 January 2021, EU nationals will be treated the same as any other individual from overseas seeking to work in the UK and will need to do so via a new immigration system.

For the majority of workers, this will involve the new Skilled Worker route, through which individuals must achieve a minimum of 70 points to be allowed entry into the UK which are based around their occupation, skills and ability to speak English. To this end, employers must update their immigration policies to include and facilitate these new requirements, both in the recruitment stage and when conducting right to work checks.

A significant part of the new law is the need to be offered a job from an approved, licensed sponsor in order to work in the UK legally. Organisations will need to apply for a license via the government website, applications for which are already open. As we head towards the end of the year, employers should do this now, so they are ready for next year’s changes.

For EU nationals that already work for an employer, they can continue to do so indefinitely provided they have applied for ‘settled status’ through use of the EU Settlement Scheme. In place since March 2019, individuals who are living and working in the UK by 31 December 2020 have until 30 June 2021 to submit their application.