Following the UK Parliament’s rejection yesterday (January 15th, 2019) of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, the whole Brexit process and its transition terms are now unclear.
Leaving the EU without a transition withdrawal agreement is certainly closer (the UK is due to leave the EU on March 29th, 2019) but it is not necessarily more likely.
A “no deal” departure will happen unless there is either (1) an acceptable replacement deal or (2) a delay to Brexit in one form or another.
If Brexit happens without a deal, what happens then? Truly, no-one really knows. However, we can say that as regards employment and immigration law, no immediate action is required. Longer term of course, a review of your staffing and recruitment policies will be needed, once the dust settles.
Rights of EU/EEA nationals to live and work in UK
Under the (currently rejected) Withdrawal Agreement, rights would have remained the same as now until December 31, 2020. EU nationals will continue to have the right to come and work in the UK. Meanwhile, EU/EEA nationals would be able to apply for “Settled Status” if they had 5 years continuous residency in the UK or “Pre-Settled Status” if less than 5 years residency. The application deadline was to be June 30th, 2021, after which different rules would apply.
If the UK leaves without a “deal” the UK Government has confirmed there will be no change from the proposed transition arrangements set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, except that the deadline for “Settled Status” or “Pre-Settled Status” applications is brought forward to December 31st, 2020.
Summary: if there is no Brexit withdrawal deal, no immediate action is required but relevant employees should make sure they don’t miss application deadlines.
Rights of UK nationals living and working in the EU/EEA
The short term position is likely to be reciprocated by EU Member States but after Brexit the local rules will be a matter for each State unless other agreements are reached. Employers and UK employees working in EU/EEA states need to watch closely the developments in the countries where they live and work.
Summary: monitor developments in local immigration rules.
UK Labour law
There will be no short term change to UK workers’ rights originally introduced under EU law. All current UK labour law stays in place as, in almost all cases, it exceeds the requirements of EU law.
One exception to this is European Works Councils where changes can be expected in due course although existing EWCs in the UK will be protected and sustained. New EWCs however will not be set up.
Summary: no action required.