Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. We can’t be certain if, when, or in what form Britain’s exit from the EU may occur. But one thing is for certain – if it does happen, it will significantly affect the day-to-day running of very many British businesses.

So it is crucial to prepare in as much detail as possible, and to prepare for the version of Brexit which would affect your business most significantly. If these disruptions and complications don’t occur – great! No harm done. If they do, you’ll be ready and waiting with a plan of action. It is important to be aware that whilst a transition period has been agreed – giving businesses some time to adjust – this will not apply in the event of a no-deal Brexit. So if this does occur, you will be required to adapt you business immediately, to fit with the new regulations.  For a useful overview of how to prepare your business for Brexit, and some important things to consider in any situation, check out the list below.

Employees 

If you employee EU citizens whose right to work in the UK may be affected by Brexit (or British citizens working in the EU), there are a number of things it is important to consider. First of all, review the number of staff in your business who are EU citizens and ensure their awareness of the situation. Research UK permanent residency status and make sure you can provide up-to-date advice and make proper plans. Be aware that the current right of free movement for UK nationals and EEA nationals in the UK is coming to an end. Also take some time to understand the settlement scheme for EEA nationals in the UK and the process for applying for settled or pre-settled status.

Consider the position of employees on international assignments and international commuters in relation to qualification for settled status, and be aware that UK nationals working in the EEA are expected to have access to equivalent schemes to obtain settled status, provided that a deal is finalised

Carry out an audit of the workforce to establish which employees are EEA nationals in the UK or British nationals in the EEA.

Communicate with the workforce clearly and regularly on the potential impact of Brexit and support available to employees. And if you can, consider providing assistance with applications for settled and pre-settled status. Be aware that some employees may still wish to apply for permanent residence under the current system.

It is also important to identify potential skills gaps and labour shortages and plan how to address these.

Rules and Regulations    

When the UK leaves the EU there may be changes to the requirements for placing certain products on the UK and EU markets. For more specific information on this, check hereIt is important to polish your internal policies and processes, including international certifications including environmental, CSR, health and safety. If you currently use ce marking be aware that regulations may change in a number of different ways, so get in touch with a company like MSCS for more information. 

Importing & Exporting

The decision to leave the EU will have significant implications for UK businesses doing business with the European Union.

As it stands, UK-based companies can sell goods to EU customers without additional taxes and can import goods tariff-free. However, since continued membership of the single market has been ruled out, a new arrangement has to be reached.

The UK government is seeking new trade arrangements with countries outside of the EU/EEA. These trade agreements are largely still in progress. Should they result in improved trade conditions for UK businesses, there may be first mover advantage in accessing these markets.