Bitesize Brexit 2.0. Tips on what to do now: labour market

The end of the Brexit transition period is nigh and there’s still no clarity in many areas, but we do know what the UK immigration regime will look like. And the changes are significant. Here’s what you need to think about.

At 11pm on 31 December 2020 the UK will leave the Brexit transition period and one of the four fundamental freedoms of the EU will cease to apply to the UK: the free movement of people. At the same time a points-based immigration system will take its first tentative steps—although UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have announced that the skilled worker route will start on the 1 December 2020- although you would not need to use this route for non-resident EU nationals until after the 1 January 2021. The changes to how you resource your teams could be profound.

 In this series of bite-size ‘Brexit countdown’ articles, we focus on the commercial implications of ‘Brexit 2.0’ in certain key areas and set out a high-level overview of the sort of things you should be thinking about with your teams and customers, and what you should be doing to get yourself Brexit-ready.

Last time, we looked at providing services. In this article we look at the impact on the labour market and the free movement of people.

What sorts of things should you typically be thinking about?

For how you resource your teams, consider these key matters in particular:

  • the UK’s new immigration system reduces the freedom of EU migrants to work in the UK, as they will be treated the same as non-EU migrants. To what extent, if at all, will this affect your business?
  • UK nationals’ freedom to work in EU member states could be curtailed. Again, to what extent, if at all, will this affect your business?
  • restrictions on the freedom of movement of people could lead to labour shortages in the UK, particularly in sectors that rely heavily on workers from the rest of the EU such as construction, hospitality, franchising and care services. Is this likely to have an impact on your operations and, if so, to what extent will it do so?
  • restrictions on the freedom of movement of people could also make it more difficult to provide services on a pan-European basis where those services depend on the free movement of people. Is this likely to have an impact on your operations and, if so, to what extent will it do so?
  • have your consider other matters such as the possibility that UK driving licences will no longer be recognised in the EU?

Of course, every business will need to consider its own particular circumstances based on factors such as, in particular:

  • its location
  • the nature of its goods and services
  • the business, economic and regulatory environment in which it operates
  • the location of its key customers and suppliers, and
  • the make-up of its workforce.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the analysis you need to do, but thinking about the commercial aspects above can help you decide what legal changes (if any) are necessary now and in the months to come.

At Shoosmiths, we have stayed close to Brexit developments. As always, we welcome any thoughts or comments from you and are ready to help you prepare for Brexit.

We are also producing briefings across all specialisms to keep you informed of legal changes anticipated in light of Brexit. On the new immigration regime, we will host a series of free Brexit webinars in November and December on the biggest change in a generation to the way people can move to live and work in the UK:

We hope you can join us.

If you have any queries in the meantime, do get in touch.

In the next article in this series, we’ll be looking at licenses, permits and consents.


This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.


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