Britex: the potential impact on business

WHICHEVER way it goes, there is potential for business disruption from a UK exit from the European Union and many businesses aren’t currently thinking about how it will affect them from a staffing perspective.

It’s still unclear how EU nationals working in the UK would be treated if Britain were to leave the EU.

Many are saying that Britain may leave its borders open in exchange for access to the open market.

However, until such an agreement could be negotiated, UK immigration would have to rely on British national law, making moving to – and potentially staying within - the UK considerably harder than it is currently.

If Britain opts out of the EU on June 23, the future is somewhat unclear.

For migrant workers, it will all depend on whether the UK government decides to negotiate for free movement, or if they will impose a visa system.

If the electorate votes to stay in the EU, the Prime Minister negotiated the following special exceptions that will take effect as soon as the referendum is ratified.

  • Child benefit payments to migrant workers whose children are still resident in their home country will be recalculated to match the equivalent rate in their country of origin. In many cases, this will mean that foreign nationals will receive less child benefit than their British counterparts.
  • The UK may decide to limit in-work benefits for foreign nationals for their first four years in Britain, in situations where there is an “exceptional” level of migration to the UK. This “emergency brake” must be lifted after seven years.
  • Britain can keep the pound, and trade with the European bloc without any fear of discrimination. Any British money spent on bailing out eurozone countries will be reimbursed.
  • The City of London – Britain’s centre of financial services – will have safeguards to prevent the imposition of eurozone regulations.
  • Britain will have special status in the EU, and will not have to honour any commitment to the creation of an “ever closer union”.
  • A “red card” for national parliaments will be imposed. If a majority of 55% of national parliaments object to a piece of EU legislation it will have to be reconsidered.
  • There will be a series of new measures to increase competition in the internal european market, including dispensing with a lot of bureaucratic hurdles.
  • There will be limitations on free movement for non-EU nationals who marry someone from an EU member state. They will also implement new powers to prevent the entry of persons they believe to be a security risk – even without any previous convictions.

How much support are you giving your EU national staff with respect to a potential Brexit?