I think it would be fair to say that whichever way you voted in the EU referendum, most of us were taken by surprise by the events that unfolded following the results.
But, no matter what your opinion on Brexit, we can’t avoid the fact that at some point article 51 will be triggered, and without a doubt, there will be consequences to the UK job market and employment laws.
The official statement from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s Chief Executive, Kevin Green, was as follows: “The vote to leave the EU is likely to usher in a challenging period for British business and for the UK labour market in particular. Our data has shown a slowdown in hiring as we approached the referendum. We expect to see this period of uncertainty continue. We need to ensure that British businesses continue to be able to get the people they need to fill the jobs available. Access to talent is absolutely vital to sustainable economic growth and prosperity. In sectors such as healthcare, education, hospitality, construction and manufacturing, workers from the EU are vital and any change to our immigration system needs to recognise that.”
Although there will of course be a period of uncertainly, at Engage, and our sister company, Jobshop UK, we have actually seen a rise in demand for permanent roles post June 23rd, and this is of course hugely encouraging. I put this down to most of us – whether we are business owners, company directors or HR leaders – having that good old British resolve and just getting on with it!
Being part of the EU meant there were laws we had to adhere to which many in recruitment and HR found officious, frustrating and irrelevant to the UK employment market. But there is one subject on most people’s minds concerning recruitment and employment, and that’s the law dealing with freedom of movement and immigration post Brexit.
Personally, I’m hopeful that opportunities for hiring talent from a global market will strengthen our economy. Once article 51 has been triggered, we’re unlikely to see any immediate or major employment law policy change in the UK and many EU laws would possibly be retained – either as part of the Brexit negotiation deal, or simply because many of those laws are now ingrained within the UK workplace, and have become the norm.
Freedom of movement would have to be a huge part of any Brexit deal given the sheer numbers of EU workers in Britain and the number of UK expats living in EU countries. Brussels would likely demand some form of free movement of people in return for the UK enjoying free movement of goods. So again, no major changes suddenly coming into play there.
As we know, most businesses are run in a global market, not just a European market, and at times the EU market labour movement rules have restricted a company’s ability to think and act globally. As part of the EU, frustrations arose when employers were not able to easily hire people they knew to be perfect for a job – often after meeting them at networking events or business trips outside the EU. Often, a particular population can provide the UK job market with highly skilled workers, or workers with a specific cultural and geographical knowledge, but it was not easy to hire these people as they resided outside the EU. Potentially, post Brexit, we could see a change in the laws which make it easier to hire talent from the global market.
With so much negativity immediately surrounding the EU referendum result, it is our duty as business owners, employers, recruiters, and most importantly, as UK citizens, to be as positive and pro-active as we can in turning this result into something that will work for us in making our country and economy one to be respected, admired and looked up to as a strong model for the future.