Brexit – time is running out

The end of transition is almost upon us. As this will happen over Christmas, realistically there are only seven weeks left to make final preparations for the management of many businesses.

The Government is concerned to ensure that businesses are making all the preparations necessary. In his latest communication to business, Alok Sharma, the Secretary of State for Business, makes some key points which we’ve reflected on below.

1. Government Guidance

The Government has developed an interactive tool to help businesses identify areas where they may need to take action before transition. We encourage any business with any links at all to the EU, EEA or Northern Ireland to utilise it if they have not done so already.

2. Free Government Webinars

The Government augments its transition website with webinars covering sectors that may be particularly affected by Brexit. These cover Chemicals, Manufactured Goods, Services and Investment, Retail, Automotive, Materials and Other Materials, Electronics and Machinery, Consumer Goods, Life Sciences, Construction, Aerospace and, holders or users of Intellectual Property.

3. End of Free Movement and Immigration in 2021

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that free movement of people within the EU comes to an end for the UK on 31 December 2020. Important points from this include:

a) If you employ EU or EEA citizens in your business and you expect them to remain on your UK workforce after 31 December 2020, have you confirmed that they have successfully applied for the right to remain.

b) We have noticed that some businesses employing non UK domicile workers have allowed them to return home to their country of origin during the pandemic while remaining on the UK payroll. We envisage companies employing personnel without the right to remain might also do the same. Businesses should understand that employees of UK companies working overseas may well result in complex multinational income tax, social security and corporation tax implications for the employee and employer if they do so. Please contact us if you have employees working overseas and you have not undertaken suitable analysis in relation to their tax and social security position as well as the employers own tax profile.

4. New Points Based Immigration System

From 1 January the UK will apply a new points based immigration system that will apply to EU/EEA and Rest of the World citizens alike. As is the case now for Rest of the World employers will need to be registered sponsors and obtain permission to employ foreign citizens in the UK. The penalties for non-compliance are substantial and in some cases may result in criminal prosecution. Further details of the scheme can be found here.

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