Ok so we are going to mention the ‘B’ word, but only because what happens in the coming month or months could have an impact on the career choices we make and potentially employment in general, especially if you are an EU citizen working in the UK. At the moment, we are waiting to find out exactly what is going to happen after 29th March, but one thing that we do know is that at this moment in time, employment and employment opportunities do not appear to have been impacted by the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and in fact, unemployment is at the lowest it has been since January 1975 and pay is increasing.
What if I am an EU citizen that works or wants to work in the UK?
Currently, we are still not able to determine what Brexit will mean for anyone in employment or engaged in job searching, but what we do know is that the free movement of both UK nationals in Europe and European Economic Area nationals in the UK, will be a thing of the past. As of 30th March 2019, all EU, EEA or Swiss citizens will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30th June 2021. But, who can apply will depend on how the UK leaves the EU. If come 29th March we leave Europe with no deal, only EU, EEA and Swiss citizens that have been living in the UK prior to 29th March 2019 can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme. All very confusing and we would highly recommend that any EU, EEA or Swiss nationals take a look at the Government website for clarification on what they need to so as their next steps.
What will happen to our current employment laws?
UK employment laws have, in some part, been set by Europe. Leaving the EU will not immediately change any of our employment laws and, in fact, many of the UK’s employment laws stemming from EU Directives have been introduced through UK legislation. There is nothing set in stone about how or what employment laws might change, and opinions differ as to which employment legislation may be changed or eliminated after we leave the EU. One employment law that many of us may have our eye on is the EU Working Time Directive but even if the law changes this may not override an employee’s existing contractual rights with their employer.
Will Brexit mean greater unemployment?
The simple answer to this is that no one really knows. Economic experts have given us opinions as to how our economy and employment may be affected, and we should listen to this advice with an open mind until we know exactly how and when the UK will leave Europe. In March 2018, the British Chamber of Commerce downgraded its growth expectations for the UK economy which, if realised, would be the weakest growth our economy has seen in a decade. But average earnings growth is set to improve over the forecast period, and unemployment is still anticipated to remain historically low. Employment opportunities still seem to be plentiful, and even though we have heard of closures and cutbacks with some of our largest manufacturers, the employment market is remaining buoyant. But, we all need to be mindful that the uncertainty of the entire situation could be holding our economy together with a very fragile piece of string, which could all change in the coming months.
For some, Brexit is embraced and welcomed as an opportunity for the UK to flourish as it takes back control. For others, the warnings over leaving the EU are stark with messages of loss of free trade, a weakened economy and reduced negotiating power with the rest of the world. The only advice we can give to anyone who is searching for employment at this particular moment in time is to make sure you are really doing your research before applying for a job and make sure that the company is the right fit for you and what it is you are looking to get from a new position. These may be uncertain times, but change can also bring with it greater opportunities and these should always be embraced.