Brexit and the possible impact on our cooperation with UK citizens on board and on projects onshore in EU
As a supplier of Permanent Recruitment, Executive Search and Contract Personnel services internationally, Taylor Hopkinson remains vigilant, aware and proactive in the face of potential Brexit consequences. Including assessing and understanding potential challenges around immigration, work permits, legal status and freedom of movement for contractors.
Around 45,000 UK contractors live and pay taxes in Britain but work in mainland Europe and others work on short-term contracts or commute to mainland Europe. It is an ongoing area of review in case these workers lose the opportunity to work within the EU following a Brexit deal in 2019/2020.
Update for January 2021: read our Post-Brexit guidance for UK-based contractors.
It is important to remember that, when Britain finally leaves the EU, there will be a transition period. Businesses and individuals will have the chance to adjust and prepare until 31st December 2020, when this period ends. Free movement will continue during this time, and contractors will remain compliant and free to complete projects in Europe. On this basis, we are confident that in the short to medium term, co-operation with UK citizens working on EU projects (offshore and onshore) and EU citizens working on UK projects, will continue unaffected.
Uncertainty in the Longer Term
Longer term, due to the uncertainty of the Brexit outcome, it is unclear how contractors and labour agreements will be affected. We don’t yet have a clear picture of what Brexit really means, with businesses unsure about whether they will be in the single market or not. It is also unknown which deals will be made between the UK and Europe and how that will impact tariffs in goods and services.
Due to uncertainty post-Brexit, delays are initially expected when it comes to investing in people and businesses. This could affect hiring decisions, from eliminating some contractor positions to restricting the period of time contractors can work before they are replaced by permanent employees.
Employers may very well decide to hold off on hiring permanent staff until they are clear about how Brexit will affect them. In the meantime, we are aware that new projects and system changes still need to be completed, which is where contractors are essential.
What About a No-Deal Brexit?
Although (a the time of writing) it appears that the possibility of a no-deal Brexit has been taken off the table, this is something which still must be seriously considered. Leaving the European Union with no deal would have significant implications on the movements of both people and services, which would affect contractors and freelancers working in the UK and Europe.
If the government and the EU cannot reach an agreement, the 21-month transition period would not occur, and this is something which must be acknowledged.
Coping with the Brexit Change
Brexit is affecting all levels of business strategy and decision-making in both the UK and the EU. Companies are seeking new locations, or in some cases, discontinuing foreign operations altogether as relocation would be cost-prohibitive. However, for both independent contractors, recruiters, and clients, there is still some time before serious changes occur in work permit or right to travel rules occur. But the hiring practices and business strategies across Europe are already under close review with the UK’s new potential independence. We are acutely aware of these issues and are working closely with clients and candidates to ensure continued support and success.
The rights of UK citizens living in EU member states following Brexit will, to an extent, be influenced by whether the UK and the EU negotiating parties reach a deal.
If there is a deal, the Withdrawal Agreement which has currently been agreed between the parties will take effect. That Agreement states that all UK citizens living in an EU state will be entitled to remain in that EU state on the same terms as currently, for as long as they wish (subject to certain registration requirements and the length of time they have been resident in that EU state). That permission would also extend to their (non-EU) family members.
If there is no deal, the outcome will be determined by the decisions of each member state. For example, the Dutch government has stated in a letter of intent that all UK citizens in the Netherlands will still have their right to remain protected, albeit there will be a slightly different procedure for this. We understand that that protection would again extend to (non-EU) family members. In general, therefore, the current rights of UK citizens in the Netherlands will be protected, whether or not there is a deal and the company would be able to continue to employ those individuals.
We are unable to provide specific advice around the immigration rights of those working in all territorial waters and recommend requesting specialist local advice for clarification.
What is Taylor Hopkinson doing now to prepare for BREXIT?
As a business we are preparing for the proposed changes and consequences now, and will keep a watching brief as further announcements are made later in March 2019 and throughout the following months. Final announcements and detail have yet to be clarified and we are keeping a watching brief, reviewing announcements and literature, attending seminars and open sessions. We are also researching internally and through legal, tax, and immigration advisors.
- Taylor Hopkinson have formed a working group internally across Finance, Operations, Contracts, Compliance and Senior Management, and meeting regularly to review and plan strategy. We understand a large amount of work may be required to be sufficiently prepared for the change across all of these functions as well as a strategy to overcome challenges or issues resulting.
- Assessing current arrangements with clients and monitoring the number of workers being supplied who are UK citizens / Limited companies.
- Continuing to build on our significant network of contractors and workers throughout EU countries and beyond, as the number of experienced and qualified industry professionals internationally grows.
- We have set up European business entities in Belgium and Spain, and have completed registration with Dutch Chamber of Commerce for WAADI licensing purposes. We will also continue to closely review government responses to Brexit for any member states where we provide services.
- Planning to communicate and explain the changes and implications to workers affected and engage in consultation as required throughout 2019 – 2020.
- Assessing the direct and indirect financial impact of the proposed changes.
- Taylor Hopkinson intend to maintain a consistent open dialogue / knowledge-share with our clients throughout this period to ensure a proactive and educated response to the changes as they unfold. We are committed to continuing to provide a professional and high-value service proposition to our clients and contractors and will work to retain compliance and transparency throughout this transition.