Irwin Mitchell | Focus on Employment | Are your staff worried about their jobs following Brexit?

Are your staff worried about their jobs following Brexit?

The economic reverberations following the outcome of the referendum have already started to affect some businesses. Even if you don’t know what the future holds for your organisation, how do you reassure your staff and send out the message that, for the time being, it is business as usual? Use our staff Q&A to help alleviate immediate concerns.

Precedent: Employee Communication

What Brexit means for employees

The UK has voted to exit from the European Union. Whilst the withdrawal is likely to be a hugely complicated and lengthy process, we would like to provide initial information on what the impact of Brexit could mean for you as an employee.

Q1: How long will it take for the UK to exit the EU?

The exit rules provide that countries have a minimum of two years’ to negotiate their withdrawal from the EU and time starts to run from the date the Government serves formal notice to exit the EU. Notice to leave the EU has not been issued and the timing of it is strictly a political decision for the UK Government.

Q2: Will my terms and conditions of employment change as a result of Brexit?

We do not anticipate making any changes to your terms and conditions of employment as a result of Brexit, but cannot guarantee that your terms and conditions will remain completely unchanged in the future. This is because the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU remain uncertain and a number of laws which have until now governed UK employment law have been defined or shaped by our membership of the EU.

Q3: How will Brexit affect UK employment law and as a result our people policies?

The decision to exit the EU will be unlikely to necessitate any immediate and major employment law policy changes in the UK due to the fact that:

  • The UK will continue to be bound by relevant EU laws until another agreement is reached or until the UK unilaterally withdraws from the EU (which cannot be earlier than two years from the date the exit notice is served). This means that we will continue to follow all existing UK laws that derive from the EU during this two year period.
  • Depending on the UK’s relationship with the EU following Brexit, the Government may be required to retain EU employment law as part of any new deal.
  • Many UK laws, which originate from the EU, have become workplace norms, therefore it would not be in the political interest of any Government to initiate wholesale change or removal. These include some discrimination laws and working time practices including the right to paid holidays.
  • Some current UK employment laws exceed minimum EU requirements (for example, family leave, including maternity and paternity rights), or fall outside EU competence (such as unfair dismissal rights). In these cases there is unlikely to be any change as a result of Brexit.
  • As the political landscape becomes clearer we will continue to review our policies in line with any Government decisions and any changes to legislation and we will of course discuss any proposed changes and the impact of these with our employees.

Q4: I am an EU citizen but do not have a UK passport. Will I be able to continue to work for in the UK?

The borders will not automatically be closed to non UK residents and we expect transitional arrangements to be negotiated as part of a post Brexit regime. Depending on the outcome of those negotiations, you may need a visa to continue to work in the UK and satisfy any immigration controls imposed by the UK Government. If you have any concerns in this regard, please contact the HR Department.

Q5: Should I apply for permanent residence to avoid any immigration restrictions that might be imposed by the UK Government?

Currently, you need to demonstrate you have lived in the UK for at least five years to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK and pay the fee. Further guidance is available on the Government’s website.

Q6: Will the business be making any redundancies or restructuring as result of Brexit?

We have no current plans to make any redundancies or to restructure as result of the vote to exit.


We are considering our position and will comply with all relevant EU and UK laws if we do consider that redundancies are necessary. Obviously, we can’t predict the future and do not yet know what trading agreement the UK Government will reach with the EU and how this may affect our own business.

Please contact HR if you have any additional questions or concerns not considered in this Q&A.

Summer 2016

Download Summer 2016 issue (pdf)