Brexit & Beyond: What does Article 50 and the new Trump Administration mean for Global Mobility?

The UK’s decision to leave the EU last summer caused shockwaves in Britain and across Europe, but it seems to have been just the start of a trend, and governments around the world are tightening border controls, changing immigration regulations and tearing up trade agreements.

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These changes can present huge challenges for business and particularly for global mobility. So FEM’s London Chapter invited a panel of experts to discuss how organisations can anticipate and manage the consequences of so much upheaval.

KPMG kindly hosted the event at their exclusive Members’ Club in Grosvenor Street, Mayfair and more than 75 professionals from a wide range of industry sectors attended.

Our distinguished panel

Our expert panel members provided the audience with diverse and distinct perspectives on the issues: Anastassia Beliakova, Senior Trade Policy Manager at British Chambers of Commerce, which represents over 75,000 businesses across the UK shared some of the key findings of the BCC’s Business Brexit Priorities report. Punam Birly, Partner at KPMG UK, who leads the KPMG Legal Services in their Employment and Immigration Practice was joined by her colleague, Chris Hogan, Tax Partner at KPMG, who flew in specially from his base in Zurich. They were joined by Ian Robinson, Partner at Fragomen in London, where he also leads the firm’s UK Government Strategies Practice as well as representatives of two leading FTSE 100 companies, Viv Mott, Head of Global Mobility at Aviva and Helen Walton, Director of Global Mobility at Astra Zeneca.

Beyond Brexit

Though the discussion initially centred on Brexit and its possible consequences, the talk also ranged across the latest changes to tax, immigration and trade policy in the USA under the new Trump Administration as well as the abolition of Australia’s 457 visa. Chris Hogan, a native New Yorker was able to share his knowledge of the US tax system and Donald Trump’s proposed new changes to both corporation and personal tax, and Punam Birly, in addition to explaining a number of changes to immigration regulations worldwide, also highlighted the implications for social security policies.

Positive steps

There was certainly no shortage of challenges to be addressed, but the panel also shared some ideas for creative solutions. Viv Mott and Helen Walton discussed the ways in which they have dealt with Brexit so far. Viv explained how, in the immediate aftermath of the widely unexpected referendum result, Aviva embarked on a Right to Work check of over 18,000 employees.

Both Helen and Viv reported that the measures that both companies have undertaken so far have also yielded some other, unintended, but useful results, so the message was very much that organisations need to assess their situation as soon as possible and run checks on their compliance. Both emphasised that it is important to put in place plans in case the UK’s final deal with the EU turns out to be less favourable to business than the government hopes.

Time to reassess?

Before moving to Fragomen, Ian Robinson previously worked in a very senior role at the Home Office for eight years, and he shared some crucial insight into how policy is formulated, not just in the UK, but in other countries that are in dialogue with the British authorities. Ian also made an interesting suggestion that if the UK does experience skills and labour shortages as a result of Brexit, it may be time for organisations to reassess the diversity of their workforce and look at more flexible employment contracts, to encourage returning women and older workers, and retrain other, under-used personnel such as ex-offenders. This is an issue we’ll be exploring in more detail at our July London Chapter meeting: Mind the Gap - Dealing with the gender and generation gaps in global mobility – the details of which will be announced very soon.

Once more, FEM would like to thank KPMG for so generously hosting the breakfast meeting, and to express our gratitude to the panel for sharing their time and expertise.

We also thank all those who attended and the participants who posed such interesting questions.

We look forward to seeing you again in July.

To see the full programme of London Chapter Events in 2017, visit our London Chapter page.

Claire Tennant-Scull

Global Director, Content & Events, Forum for Expatriate Management

Claire Tennant-Scull is Global Director of Content & Events at the Forum for Expatriate Management (FEM). She produces and chairs all FEM’s Conferences and Summits in Amsterdam, the Americas, APAC and EMEA and oversees FEM's global awards (EMMAs). Claire works closely with key clients, leads FEM’s London Chapter and oversees the FEM website, reports and publications. In addition to her experience in Global Mobility, Claire has more than 20 years’ expertise in publishing, working as a managing editor, writer, journalist and broadcaster, both in the print and digital world. With thousands of contacts across the Global Mobility community, Claire is always keen to welcome new members and to broaden the FEM community.