The exit from the EU is not likely to take place until 2018 – there is likely to be a 2 year period during which the departing nation will negotiate the exact terms of the exit with the EU. Until then, it is business as usual;
The Leave vote does not mean that any of your employees from the EU are no longer able to work for you. EU nationals already in the UK have unlimited leave to live and work in the UK and this was not changed by the Leave vote. The exact position of their ability to remain after the exit is not yet known but it is likely that the law will only change for anyone wanting to enter the UK after the exit;
Keep an extra eye out for any ‘banter’ taking place between your EU workers and your UK workers. Colleagues may be happy to enter into tame jokes about what the Leave vote may mean for foreign workers but it is not often known when an individual’s tolerance runs out until it is too late. Banter can often be seen as bullying and bullying someone because of their nationality can be seen as harassment, which is an unlawful act under the Equality Act 2010.
If and when employment laws change, it may not be possible to impose the changes directly on to your current employees. Some legal minimum entitlements may have been incorporated into individual contracts of employment and it is generally unlawful to amend terms and conditions of existing employees without their agreement. New employees, however, can be recruited on new, less advantageous terms set out by any new laws.
As aggravating as it may seem, employers need to sit tight and wait and see what happens with employment law after the exit – it is impossible to predict what will happen, particularly with a new Prime Minister in charge. Some employment laws will not be affected by the EU exit e.g. National Minimum Wage, and importantly, unfair dismissal. This means that disciplinary procedures are not affected.
For further clarification, please feel free to call our 24 hour advice service on 0844 892 2785.
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