The Brexit Bells Have Rung – So What Happens Now?
Well, it’s official. The UK has left the EU. With the 11 pm toll of Big Ben, we moved from full partner in the European Union to a transition period, designed to give us time to get our ducks in a row before we cast out completely on our own. A lot of that will involve the bigwigs in parliament having lots of discussions and trying to work out what to do next. But what about the people trying to get on with their everyday lives, run their businesses and make important decisions? How does all this recent Brexit-action affect them?
What Happens During The Transition Period?
Now that we have officially made the decision on Brexit and triggered the process, there is a set of steps we will be following. Under the Withdrawal Bill, this starts with a transition period of 11 months, which will run until the 31st of December this year. During this time the UK will still follow the EU’s rules, including any new laws the EU brings in. So, for the next 11 months, most things will stay the same, and businesses won’t see any massive changes. Instead, it’s the folks in parliament who have just 11 months to negotiate a trade deal with the EU – something they have been trying to do since 2016 with little success.
So for now, it’s business as usual, but with a slight turn towards preparing for the future.
How Will Brexit Affect Employment Law?
Honestly? Probably not as much as everyone thinks. This is mainly because most of the employment laws we have in place in the UK have come from EU law, and we have implemented them into UK law. Like GDPR for example – leaving the EU will not get rid of this law, and you will still need to abide by it if you handle any EU citizen data. Only the Supreme Court could depart from this rule, unless parliament bring in new legislation to change it (which will be a lengthy process itself). So on that front, the immediate impact of Brexit on employment law is likely to be minimal.
The question comes however when you look a bit further into the future, where things are a bit more uncertain. There is every chance that the UK could still be required to continue implementing elements of EU legislation, particularly employment-based, as part of the negotiated trade deal between the UK and the EU. On the other hand, the laws could be left completely to our own government, in which case they could be amended or even scrapped altogether depending on the current leading party’s agenda.
Can Businesses Prepare Now?
Yes, and no. There is still so much uncertainty that there is only so much a business can do to prepare for 2021, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit on your laurels and do nothing. The government has even released some helpful guidance to get you prepared – just click this link, answer a few questions and you’ll be given a list of things you should do to get ready, as well as the chance subscribe to emails about the changes that might affect you. Depending on what your business does, this could be anything from checking with policies you need to comply with, changing contracts for licensing and shipping outside of the UK, or reviewing your employees right to work status. Other than that, it’s all about shoring up your processes and keeping a keen eye on the news.
For more information on how to prepare your business for Brexit, or any other areas of employment law, please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our employment law specialists who will be happy to help further.