As previously reported, the U.K. will leave the European Union in March 2019. While there have not yet been any immediate immigration consequences, companies should prepare for changes to be implemented from both sides by mid-2018. In the meantime, what should companies be doing?
Companies should begin by identifying their EU citizen employees in the UK and its UK citizens employed in the EU.Historically, most companies have not tracked the nationality of their UK and EU citizen employees in each category. In the UK, an EU citizen can work in the UK without any registration requirements. However, UK citizens in the EU are generally still required to register before working, but because of data privacy requirements, nationality is not tracked. Employers should begin by documenting and distinguishing the nationality of their UK and EU employees to plan for the future and ensure compliance.
Second, companies should start communicating with EU and UK citizen employees about Brexit. For employees wanting to remain in their current location in the UK or an EU member country, companies should consider permanent residency as the best option at this time to protect employees from needing to depart, or, obtain a work permit in the future.
Ultimately, given the extreme steps that the UK has taken to leave the EU, companies should also be preparing for the worst. However, before any meaningful planning can occur, companies are urged to take action and identify its populations in the UK and EU, as many employees can be protected by filing permanent residency applications. For those not eligible for permanent residency, if the company at minimum knows its workforce in each territory, their response time to the final rules and regulations issued will be greatly facilitated by adopting a proactive system.