Beyond Brexit - Time to act: Support and engage your people

Lindsey Barras Partner, PwC United Kingdom Aug 08, 2019

Lindsey Barras sets out how to support and engage your people throughout the Brexit process.

For many organisations, the impact of Brexit on their people and workforce strategy is their primary concern. This is an uncertain and unsettling time for many, so my ‘no regrets’ recommendation is to engage and support your people now. The ‘best in class’ employers are giving as much support and clarity to their affected employees as they can, for example through town hall sessions, one to one clinics and centralised information hubs.

The good news is, we have some detail about what will happen before Brexit, and employers in particular are well-placed to channel information and help provide clarity to their employees. The EU Settlement Scheme is the UK government’s system for EU nationals to secure evidence of their right to remain in the UK following Brexit. This system will operate regardless of whether the UK’s exit is facilitated by a ‘deal’ or ‘no deal’ with some differences in timelines;

  • Deal: available to eligible individuals living in the UK on or before 31 December 2020 (deadline for submission 30 June 2021)

  • No deal; available to eligible individuals living in the UK on or before the date the UK leaves the EU (deadline for submission 31 December 2020)

Applications can be made online and in most cases should take 15-20 minutes per person to complete. The online application will make an initial assessment as to whether people are entitled to “Settled Status” or “Pre-Settled Status”, depending on their length of residence in the UK. 

The idea behind the registration scheme is that it will link HMRC records and if someone states, for example, that they have been in the UK for five years and the records are reflective of this, then they will be notified of their settled status.

The registration system is fairly straightforward with a handful of questions. There will no doubt be many cases where records are not readily available, but the Home Office is committed to making the system as easy as possible, however we have seen some cases of individuals accepting “Pre-Settled Status” when they may be eligible for “Settled Status” due to not understanding the options. 

The most uncertainty lies in the different positions of the UK and EU around the proposed position for EU citizens arriving in the UK during an implementation or transitional period as well as UK nationals travelling to the EU for business travel. It is important not to forget that the future arrangements will not be fully known until the negotiations on the future relationship are concluded and it is imperative for employers to stay close to the negotiation process and outcomes.

It is likely to take some time before a landing is reached so what should employers be doing now? At PwC we have followed our own advice to support and engage our people throughout the Brexit process, particularly EU citizens not from the UK. It was agreed from the top that supporting our people through what might be a stressful period for them was the right thing to do both for individuals personally, and for us as an organisation. When the details of the Settlement Scheme were announced we devised a plan to help our people through the process, including developing interactive online content to support understanding as well as making android phones available for people to access the scheme. Supporting and engaging your people and giving space for dialogue will continue to be important over the next few months.

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Lindsey Barras

Partner, PwC United Kingdom

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