Brexit: How Relocation Managers Should Prepare for the Unknown
Posted by: James Speirs, Director, Supply Chain Management, Global
As we get ever nearer to the UK leaving the EU on 29 March, there is much speculation about whether it will be a hard or soft Brexit, or whether there will be a second referendum, or indeed a ‘technical’ extension, whereby Article 50 is delayed until later in the year. Amongst all of these uncertainties, one thing is for sure and that’s the need for businesses to start developing contingency plans. Right now.
The Only Certainty is the Need To Plan!
If you haven’t already, preparing for Brexit today means that your business will be better positioned to respond to whatever the outcome may be. And the need to take action really might be sooner than you think. If the UK government reaches a deal, then of course you have the 21-month transition period through to 31 December 2020 to finalise your preparations. But if there isn’t a deal, and the UK leaves on 29 March, then this reality comes much sooner. A mere 57 days to be exact.
Get To Know Your Assignees
Knowledge is everything! Conduct a full review of your current assignee population. How many UK and EU nationals are currently on assignment? Where are they living and working? What future moves do you have scheduled that may be affected by Brexit?
Immigration provider, Fragomen, has provided comprehensive information about how EU and UK nationals may be impacted by Brexit:
EU Nationals. The UK government recently announced their post-Brexit plans for EU nationals living and working in the UK. For more information, read our blog, Plans for Post-Brexit UK Immigration System Released.
UK Nationals. UK nationals relocating after the transition period or, if it’s a hard Brexit/no deal, from 29 March, will have to meet new immigration rules and may potentially lose all EU rights immediately. However, many EU members have stated that this will not happen. The Netherlands plan to give UK nationals a grace period of 15 months, whilst Germany will be providing a three-month window. There may also be the opportunity to make work permit applications early, but at the moment only The Netherlands has officially stated that it will accept applications before Brexit.
A further consideration is that—regardless of whether a deal is secured—intra-European mobility programmes will become far more restricted in the future. With 27 EU member states comes potentially 27 different sets of immigration rules for UK nationals to follow.
© 2019 Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates. All Rights Reserved. This alert is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or give rise to an attorney-client relationship between you and Fragomen Worldwide. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen Worldwide.
Cartus Recommendations for Relocation Managers
To meet the challenges associated with Brexit, we recommend that you work with your immigration provider to review your assignee population and how Brexit may impact them. It’s also important to let assignees know about the possibility of disruption to their assignments. Setting expectations now will ensure more successful moves later on.
Factor in Country Nuances
If your business is considering relocating out of the UK, then it’s important you understand the unique set of challenges that each host location may present, from increased bureaucracy and new immigration laws, to securing temporary accommodation in a tight housing market. Such challenges may increase the cost of relocation or mean that it takes longer to implement moves, which should be considered when planning future relocation programmes.
Expect the Unexpected
With announcements, updates, and u-turns happening weekly (and sometimes daily!), the way in which Brexit will play out is unknown. To meet this uncertainty, careful planning and communication is required, so be sure to share plans with key business areas in your organisation.
Avoid the ‘wait and see’ approach, contact your relocation provider, and act now. Create a plan that’s flexible enough to amend should you need to negotiate any new hurdles along the way, and above all, expect the unexpected!