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The potential impact of Brexit on UK businesses 


Brexit. Whether you’re for or against it, the real issue is that after three years we still know very little for sure. Delays, concessions, terrifying hearsay, a he-says-she-says discourse among our political leaders, the only thing we really know for sure is that Britain, for good or ill, is probably leaving the EU.

(And even then, with the extraordinary political landscape in play, who really knows?)

This is history in the making and it will take a while for the true cost to be known. The government have already put together an overwhelming amount of documentation to help guide everyone through this process and what it might mean for businesses. From this, we can take an educated guess on where the biggest impacts might be felt:


The right to work in the UK

For most businesses, there’s a good chance that you have at least one (if not more) EU nationals on your workforce. Hopefully, you’ve been supporting them through the process of applying for settled or pre-settled status (if that applies to them) but it’s also a good time to double-check that all your right-to-work checks are complete and up to date.

Something else to consider is whether or not your current processes can flag when work visas are due to expire. With EU nationals likely to need a visa to work here after Brexit, it could be an invaluable system to get in place now before you need it later. Mitrefinch’s time and attendance software allows you to record the details of the visa and use the diary feature to prompt managers in good time when a visa is due to expire and/or needs to be renewed.


Staffing levels

Sadly, Brexit could also result in a loss of employees with EU nationals potentially leaving the UK. In which case your business would need to be on it to ensure you have the right people in place at the right times to keep everything running smoothly and safely, while still preserving the wellbeing of your remaining workers. Easier said than done in industries, like manufacturing, already feeling overstretched due to labour shortages.

Post-Brexit, recruiting from overseas may be trickier. The government immigration white paper is currently proposing that a minimum salary threshold of £30,000 would be applied for skilled workers wanting to work in the UK – well above the salary for certain roles, which could make fulfilling certain vacancies extremely difficult. Although to help mitigate some of this the government is proposing a transitional, time-limited route for temporary workers to allow them to work in the UK for 12 months. While potentially useful, it is only a temporary measure that will likely result in consistent turnover of staff.

With staffing levels a potential issue, if you’re still working on paper timesheets, communal Excel files or with a legacy system that sort-of-not-really meets your needs, then you should seriously consider automating your processes. Changing to the right software can save hours of admin, freeing up your teams to get on with other tasks and so improving productivity. Any processes that you can automate you should automate as, whatever happens with the outcome of Brexit, there’s likely to be a sharp increase in the amount of admin required (pulling employees away from other tasks that need completing).


Employee wellbeing

The mental, physical and financial wellbeing of your workforce may be about to take a battering. Food and beverage prices are rising and experts warn that a no deal Brexit could result in food shortages. It’s enough to make anyone sweat. And in the midst of this, life continues. Family emergencies happen, sickness happens, and unexpected bills happen. Now is the time to check in on your employees – are any of them frequently arriving late? Taking more days of sick leave than usual? A good T&A system will be able to help you spot these tell-tale trends, if you’re not sure. But it’s worth taking stock of the general mood of your employees and consider ways to improve their wellbeing, such as making use of employee assistance programmes.

Or another way could be to invest in a payroll system like Mitrefinch’s Flexipay, which enables employees to draw down pay they’ve earned ahead of their usual payday. This can help mitigate the impact of an unexpected bill without forcing the employee to take out a payday loan or put it on their credit card. It’s not a loan, it’s not credit, it’s just the pay they’ve earned to be used when they need it most.


Import, export and regulation changes

The impact here varies wildly depending on what the outcome of Brexit is. A lot of organisations have been stockpiling supplies, but that may not be viable for everyone.

If we leave the EU without a deal, the government would implement a temporary tariff regime for up to 12 months. This would only be a temporary measure but it would be a very good idea to check what the temporary customs duty would be on imports so you can budget appropriately, leaving as much wriggle-room as possible to accommodate for the unexpected.

And though an agreement may be reached, with the current political outlook, it’s always better to plan for the worst-case scenario to better protect your business.

If your organisation regularly travels into the EU for business, it’s imperative to check that your employees have the correct visa forms and documentation with them that will allow them through at the borders and ensure they’re adequately insured and able to drive in their destination country.

As well as this, regulations and standards will change for selling goods in the EU and your organisation needs to be prepared for this. To start with, such changes will likely cause enormous upheaval until the new processes settle down.


Hope for the best, plan for the worst

Whatever your feelings about Brexit, there can be no denying that the ramifications will take a long time to become clear and ultimately settle into a new normal. It’s always stressful when control is taken out of your hands, so the key is to work out what things you can influence and control. Positive changes made now could pay dividends in the long run and ease the stress and uncertainty undoubtedly felt by most people in your organisation.

One of the changes you could consider is investing in technology such as Mitrefinch’s T&A solution to help mitigate some of these issues. Plus, you get all this:

  • System warnings for when visas are due to expire
  • Accurate labour costing
  • Easier scheduling due to comprehensive absence logging and reporting
  • A single comprehensive view of all data held on every employee

Get in touch on 0330 726 0066 or email sales@mitrefinch.co.uk if you’d like to know more.

For more information on our time and attendance software or workforce management solutions, contact Mitrefinch today.

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