Since the UK voted out of the European Union on the 23rd June 2016, there has been a lot of speculation about what this means for European assignees in the UK as well as UK assignees in Europe. Are companies doing all they can to assess the growing concerns, and what steps are companies putting into place?
Article 50 has not been invoked yet by the UK Prime Minister, there is clear guidance this will not happen until early 2017, and as such there is still a lot of uncertainty about what the final implications will be in regards to the immigration rights for a large proportion of assignees.
Many assignees are concerned about how the future changes will affect their immigration rights and what steps they will need to undertake in order to continue working legally either in the UK or in various EU countries.
Due to the stress in regards to the immigration uncertainty many companies are feeling the strain of a less productive workforce, which is most certainly linked to the stress of the unknown.
Will the UK follow a Norwegian regime whereby free movement is still possible? My feeling is no. What about if the UK follows a Swiss regime – would this be easy to implement and what would be the next steps for the people who currently face the unknown?
What we do know is when article 50 is invoked it will take approximately 2 years for the UK to exit the European Union, but what steps should companies be looking to take in the wake of this uncertain period.
Is it wise to plan for the worst? Set up contingencies that would help secure work permits if needed for assignee populations that would potentially be affected?
Companies should look at their assignee population in Europe and in the UK and start to plan what visas could be secured if the need arose, also what documents would need to be supplied by each assignee. Companies can almost create a visa ready checklist for assignees, which would make the transition easy if this became a necessity.
Obviously this is still all speculation and we all await to see how what Brexit will really mean, that being said it is never too early to start planning and thinking about the potential current or future population that could be affected.