Prepare and Protect – Steps you can take to minimise your Brexit business risks

Business 29th November 2018

UK’s Brexit deal agreed by EU leaders’ asserted the main headline of the BBC website at 11.05 on Sunday morning.

So, we’re a step closer to terminating our union with our European neighbours.  Right?  Well, perhaps not.  Isn’t it strange?  It’s almost as though, with every step we take towards finalising Brexit, we seem to move potentially further away.  Every move forward fills so many of us with dread about the potential outcome, that we unearth more ways of avoiding ‘what the people decided’.

Experts tell us that the chances of Mrs May’s proposed deal successfully passing through parliament are close to zero.  Opening up in front of us are an increasing number of possible scenarios.  These include –

– No deal

– The resignation of Mrs May, to be replaced by any one of half a dozen candidates, whose role would be to oversee a renewed negotiation.

– A general election

and menacingly appearing ghost-like on the inside track …

– … A second referendum!

This list represents a mere smattering of possible outcomes.  The one thing we can be clear about is … that not very much is clear.  Our role at Gravitas HR is not to advise you as to which result is preferable.  But – it is our role to offer support and advise you about what steps you can take to prepare and protect your business against the potential ravages of uncertainty.

In our last blog, we introduced the Home Office’s Brexit Toolkit, designed to help employers with matters of freedom of movement.  In times of uncertainty, the best possible way to mitigate the effects of any outcome is to prepare.  How does the saying go?  “Hope for the best.  Prepare for the worst.”

Wait and see’ might well be a sensible approach.  After all, it’s hard to justify making difficult and expensive changes when it’s unclear when or whether these will be necessary.  However, delaying your planning could prevent challenges later down the line.

Let’s look at a few ways in which you can prepare, not just to protect your company from risk, but also to ensure it’s in prime position to flourish, wherever it finds itself over the next few years.

1. Look before you leap
You might be fearful of the risks of changes to immigration regulations.  This might tempt you to replace potentially affected EU staff with UK nationals.  If you have Europe-based businesses, of course, you might be tempted to do the opposite.

As things stand at the moment, it looks as though the UK will still be subject to EU Employment Law right through to December 31st 2020.  So, this kind of action would be premature and could result in discrimination claims.

2. The skills deficit

A risk related to the one covered above, concerns the almost certain skills deficit.  As the date of EU departure looms ever closer, EU workers may well choose to leave in anticipation of developments.

Potential replacements will probably have notice periods to serve as well as potential post-termination restrictions.  Combined with a probable shortage of home-grown talent, this may well result in a delay in hiring replacements.

So – you should now be identifying key skills likely to be affected.  You should also be starting to plan how to provide the experience and training to plug any skills gap.

You may find that some workers just can’t be replaced in this way.  In these cases, you should look at your retention strategies and look to facilitate possible relocation of such workers.

Your planning should start now.  These steps can be complex and involve commercial, practical and legal issues.

3. Relocating services
Are certain elements of your business organised in different countries with different jurisdictions?  For example, you may handle your accounting, IT, HR and legal services, in different countries.

Aspects of these shared services could be affected by the UK’s departure from the EU.

You should consider contingencies.  These need to examine whether you need to prepare to bring all services back into the UK.  Also think about whether you need to recruit and train UK-based employees to carry out these functions.

At Gravitas HR, we keep up to date with developments in Employment Law.   If you’re in any doubt about protective steps you should be taking, act soon.  Get in touch.  Remember – we’re here to help.

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