Brexit-Related Uncertainty Around EU Workers

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24 Aug 2018

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There are many issues surrounding the area of Brexit and its impact on EU workers and employers in the UK.

For one, discrimination and harassment could be an arising issue. If a business has a cluster of polish workers or individual employees from the EU, they may feel that colleagues isolate them or make them feel that they are no longer welcome to work as the UK has voted not to remain within the EU. In this circumstance, it’s advisable for employers to adopt a robust equal opportunities and diversity policy in the workplace, as well as providing and advising on grievance hearings if any employees raise concerns about the way they feel within the workplace. Health and Wellbeing programmes and support, such as an Employee Assistance Programme, are also worth considering for employers, to help employees with problems which might adversely impact their work performance. Many employees have clauses in their employment contracts relating to protection such as maternity, working hours and holiday that have derived from the EU, and it may be the case in due course that employers may amend contracts on either an individual basis or on a wider scale to reflect any changes in law. This could potentially mean terminations, re employment, constructive dismissal claims, grievances and ongoing negotiations, all of which Croner can advise on. Re-drafting contracts at an early stage will ensure legal compliance, as well as including an element of flexibility to ‘future proof’ contracts. This can also can help with a litigation service if any claims were to come forward. European Court of Justice Rulings can also be questioned, as the UK’s exit from the EU may provide the UK government with the perfect platform from which to clarify and soften areas of employment regulations for employers. For example, key cases such as the Pereda v Madrid Movilidad SA case and Lock case states that workers who fall ill during a previously scheduled period of leave have the right to reschedule that leave (Pereda case), and recent judgements have led to the calculation of holiday pay being extended to include commission payments and compulsory overtime (Lock case). The Brexit vote in 2016 has meant that certain sectors in the UK economy, which are heavily reliant on EU nationals, have started to experience skills and labour shortages. The care, medical, construction and engineering sectors to name a few can be filled with skilled labour within the existing UK workforce, but not all of them can be filled this way. EU citizens living in the UK make a vital contribution to the economy and society, and without them the UK would be poorer and the public services weaker. Employers may persuade employees to join or stay within the UK labour market by offering favourable terms and conditions, to provide an element of equality and loyalty to employees by having policies in place such as long tenure incentives or diversity policies. Employers could also ensure clear communication and a sense of reassurance is present within the workforce in order to avoid or reduce potential apprehension.

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