How do you stop being afraid of finding work after Brexit?
It’s 2018, and you may be sick about hearing all the doom-mongering by news media by now about Brexit. From being told Brexit will bankrupt up to a quarter of the UK’s farms, or that it would blow an £80-billion hole in public finances, or that Theresa May’s exit deal talks are more of a negotiated surrender really.
It’s been almost two years since the nation was shocked by results (1 year, 11 months this June). If there can really be “no turning back”, then what has been done to see “a new normal” outside of the EU?
Employment’s Back Up
Here’s some good news. Unemployment dipped almost immediately after triggering Article 50.
“It’s about making sure that jobs stay here in the U.K., and that new jobs are created here in the U.K,” as May promised back in 2017.
At a surface level, that makes sense. After the similarly fear-fueled ‘Brexodus’, someone certainly has to take up the slack. Certain jobs will be in higher demand than others. Jobs may even be created as businesses vacate. Remember, trade is just one part of where a nation’s income comes from. For most people, the effects of Brexit will be felt in the price of goods and availability of jobs.
According to CNN’s Brexit Jobs Tracker, there have been massive gains in Hospitality (+82K), Finance and Insurance (+12K), and Manufacturing (+26K). This is unfortunately offset by losses in Retail (-78K), Real Estate (-7K), and Education (-42K).
“The significant number of unfilled vacancies means that the problem is more about not having the right workers available rather than the economy not creating enough jobs,” explained Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG in London.
Trade and mobility within the EU affects certain types of jobs more than others. Agriculture, tech, finance, these things feed the international market. As shown by the increase in Hospitality and Manufacturing, businesses that help internal consumption will have to carry that weight.
Changes in Employment Law
While most aspects of UK Employment Law lie outside the scope of the EU, there are many ways the post-Brexit labor landscape will be directly or indirectly altered by the event. Examining the EU Withdrawal Bill White Paper gives us some examples.
’Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981’ preserve employees’ terms and conditions when a business or undertaking, or part of one, is transferred to a new employer. While this is generally good for the employee, for the employer it introduces complexity. Due to assurances that worker’s rights will be preserved in the White Paper, things are unlikely to change much.
However, there may be some friction in transitioning from UK to EU employment (and vice versa) from the businesses moving after Brexit due to extra bureaucratic steps.
The Equality Act 2010 (EA 2010) already largely mirrors and implements the EU’s Equal Treatment Directive 2006 and there are no foreseeable issues with the law in this regard. Beyond the law however, compliance is going to be made more difficult due to a reduction in the available workforce.
Will the post-Brexit working environment be a more worker-focused place? Will employers exhibit far more preferential treatment to certain demographics in order to attract qualified workers? Grievances and claims of harassment in certain communities are also expected to rise after Brexit, and as such employers may need to consider measures and anti-bullying policies to mitigate such legal risks.
Similar to the above, this is a matter where withdrawing from the EU will then default to the local law that more-or-less mirrors its provisions. The Equal Pay Act 2010 and the EU’s Article 157 have largely the same directives and protections.
Freedom of Movement
For as long as the implementation period of the Withdrawal Agreement, EU citizens would still be able to move to the UK on the same basis as they do today. The same will apply for UK nationals moving to the EU during the same period.
There will be put in place a registration system for EU citizens and family members who choose to stay more than three months. This does not override the Common Travel Area arrangements should Scotland and Ireland remain in the EU, and therefore will not need to register.
A blanket permission may be issued by the Home Office to start upon the UK’s exit from the EU and continue for up to two years. For this period, EU citizens living in the UK may apply for residence documentation.
EU citizens arriving in the UK during the Implementation Period to undertake lawful activities like visiting, working, or studying, will have a “deemed leave” for a set period – possibly 3 months. If an EU citizen continues working beyond the unrestricted period without obtaining a residence permit, their employer may be liable for criminal sanction.
Change in Status for EU Nationals
This is an important issue for those who wish to remain in the UK or to enter it in the future. EU citizens will thereafter need to apply for a different status depending on how long they have already been in residence.
EU citizens with 5 years of continuous residence in the UK may apply for a new ‘settled status’ which will be similar to an ‘indefinite leave to remain’ for foreign nationals. Those who obtain this documentation will be able to demonstrate to prospective employers that they have ongoing rights to live and work in the UK irrespective of any migration controls that the governments may introduce for EU citizens post-Brexit.
EU citizens present in the UK before the cut-off date but without 5 years continuous residence may apply for a ‘temporary status’ order so that they may remain in the UK long enough to apply for the ‘settled status’.
Non-EU family members of EU nationals
If they are lawfully present in the UK before and during the implementation date will be granted “deemed leave” to apply for settled status or a temporary leave. They will need to apply for a residence permit however, if they wish to study or work.
It may be possible or more beneficial to apply for Dual Citizenship for EU citizens who already meet the requirements to preserve their working rights and freedom of movement between the UK and the EU. However those who wish to apply for permanent residency will also need to apply for a ‘settled status’ anyway.
Loss of UK access to the CJEU
As part of exercising their sovereignty, of course there is a cessation of recognition of the Court of Justice of the European Union’s jurisdiction. Documents and developments about worker’s rights that happen in the EU will not apply to those workers in Britain (except for those that voted to Remain, like Scotland and Northern Ireland).
There is a fear that while the UK may ossify existing provisions in the EU employment laws, business interests may chip away at EU-derived protections while keeping the basic framework.
Reducing entitlements relating to working times, leaves, equal opportunities, and other commonly accepted EU rights could be problematic, for both legal risks and employee relationships. Internal policies and contracts should perhaps not change too far from the previous status quo.
The White Paper states that UK Employment Law already goes further than the minimum standards set out in EU legislation, and it is the Government’s intent to continue to protect and enhance worker’s rights.
More Good News
More people are actually coming to the UK
Tourists, though. The depreciation of the pound made spending foreign currency in the UK more attractive. Exports are also benefiting from this trend.
Wages pick up after Brexit
Due to less immigration, some firms are force to raise wages in order to meet recruitment difficulties, Bloomberg reports. This a point to please those who voted Remain.
Special Relationship between UK and US deepens
The European Union is only the second largest single export market for goods. The largest is the United States. So while it may hurt to lose trade with the EU, so whatever shortfall could possibly be made up for in other markets or increased trade with the developing world.
More Bad News
More people are leaving the UK too
And not just foreign-born workers or the businesses being hysterically plugged by the media. Students/new workers and working professionals who wish to retain their prospects of working in the EU are considering overseas residency.
The Special Relationship requires stable leadership
But while our friends across the pond are being a bit unreliable about committing to any particular course, enduring trade deals are still up in the air. It is probably best to wait until 2019 to allow things to settle down.
Inflation is rising faster than wages
And with Brexit possibly making many things more expensive, this does not sound good for general quality of living. Raised wages means lessened profit margins for local business-owners as well.
Don’t Give Yourself Too Much Stress Until 2019
Even through all of this, the unknown is always more terrible than the known. Because it is still in the future, there’s so much to get anxious about.
However, it’s important to remember that the people of the UK have all weathered even stronger shocks before.
In the end things don’t turn out to be as bad as we could ever imagine. Once the event is actually before our eyes, then at least we will have concrete facts to work with and then can address those problems. Having something to work with is always better than directionless anxiety.
There are certainly things you can do right now to mitigate future damage. There are also things that you shouldn’t do, such as give in to panic, harassment, and scaremongering. Indulging in spite will help no one, while civilly helping each other to open new opportunities is likely to produce future success.
If you are a worker concerned with your employment and worker’s rights, don’t wallow in fear alone and find ways to get organized.
If you are a business owner concerned with the sustainability of your business post-Brexit, maintaining a sense of normalcy is more likely to keep customers.
It may also be a good time to become an entrepreneur, providing services and good in vacated markets. While others are deeply concerned with trade and export, the internal economy will need to pick up the slack.
The worst case scenario with “no deal” is extraordinarily unlikely. One positive thing that has been noted about the Post-Referendum political landscape is how common citizens have come to realize that it is important to be politically active and organized. Things may become significantly harder after leaving the EU, but you may lessen your fear about finding jobs after Brexit by not entertaining the worst possible outcomes, but rather being poised to accept the new equilibrium.