What would Brexit mean for the world of employment?

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Posted:
Mar 7 2016

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It’s undoubtedly going to be one of the most widely debated topics of the upcoming months. But as the ‘stay or go’ discussions unfold, Cascade’s CEO Oliver Shaw asks, what would Brexit mean for the world of HR and employment?

The countdown to the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU has begun. That means there are only three and a half months for us each to decide whether we vote to stay in, or leave, the European Union.

For some people, making the decision is easy – they have long had firm views on ‘Brexit’, and they know categorically whether they’ll vote ‘in’ or ‘out’ in June. For other people, there’s a whole host of research and reading to be done.
So what do I think of the matter? And what would an exit mean for the world of business, employment and HR?

Broadly speaking, in the initial stages of a disconnect, I don’t think much would change.

Over time however, we’d inevitably see more deregulation of the employment law that has largely been influenced by Europe to date. The working time directive stems from ruling created on the continent, for example. And the recent changes to holiday pay calculations may not have reared their head, had the UK not been part of Europe.

That’s not to say there aren’t valid reasons for the introduction of such regulations, but from a management perspective the decisions have sometimes been frustrating.

In fact I know a lot of people in business feel that the employment law pendulum currently swings in favour of the workforce. Would this change if we had devolved power? We have seen some movement in UK legislation in recent times, with the introduction of tribunal fees and the two year service rule required for unfair dismissal. And employment minister Priti Patel has said exiting would allow Britain freedom from stringent EU measures. So what further adjustments might there be?

We have to be mindful of what we read and interpret as the truth of course. Statistics often reinforce the widely held view that employment tribunals are more sympathetic to employee than employer. However, the tribunal process is, and will have to remain, fair and unbiased.

In terms of wider commentary I’ve read to date, the landscape is already becoming quite foggy. Pro Brexit campaigners have suggested that leaving the EU would help control immigration, whereas staying put could result in the population growing to 80million. David Cameron on the other hand has stressed that this is misleading, and that we’d still have to allow the EU’s core principle of freedom of movement. If we didn’t, it could lead to overseas businesses refusing to invest in Britain, which could cost jobs. The leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn seems to agree and business secretary Sajid Javid has said that: “the fallout from a ‘leave’ vote…would only add to economic turbulence…” and “…uncertainty is the single biggest enemy of growth.”

It’s admittedly not an easy decision to make. However, regardless of people’s individual views, I encourage everyone to vote on June 23rd as this could be one of the most pivotal choices we make as a country in the modern age. It’s important to seek out relevant, credible facts beforehand though, to ensure we all make an informed decision.

If you are still unsure what Brexit will mean for employers and employees and like more information, we found the following  CIPD article useful – Brexit: What will it mean for jobs and immigration?

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