Lead Academic - Sukhwinder Salh, Birmingham City Business School

Contact - Sukhwinder.Salh@bcu.ac.uk

Centre for Brexit Studies Employment Image 350x263 - Wooden man being raised above others The range of legislation emanating from the EU has impacted directly on UK employers. Some areas of legislation have resonated well with our own standards, processes and commitment towards equality. However other legislation has prompted frustration and concern amongst employers, namely the working time directive, Agency workers directive, free movement of persons and carrying over of annual leave. A post Brexit world will present opportunities to assess how we manage the workforce, and translate the consequences of Brexit negotiations into practice.

Each sector / industry will have their own priorities but it is the focus of this stream to add value to the understanding of how the “people” aspects of the business impacts on productivity and the all-important bottom line. Ramifications for employers, with the current absence of ‘political roadmap’ have left leaders to speculate at a time of great uncertainty. Although we are lacking a clear political direction there is an opportunity and need for employers to develop some creative thinking as we ride the storm.  Although the stability, consensus and prosperity of the UK may have been rocked by the referendum; there is need to maintain continuous dialogue, diagnosis and positivity for the way forward. Within this stream we are presented with an opening to explore how employers can work with Brexit and assess the position to enable an effective investigation of appropriate strategies to employ.

Although employment legislation is an area that will be a focus for employers following on from Brexit, it is equally important to examine the practical effects of any changes to legislation. For employers who operate in both Scotland and Northern Ireland or even at a more global level the workforce planning, attraction of talent and succession planning all become key concerns. Large Public sector organisations that rely heavily on a pool of talent from our European neighbours will need to re-visit their recruitment and retention strategies in order to make sense of restrictions that may come through from changes to free movement of persons.

During the Brexit debate there has been reference to an increase in “hate” crimes as a result of the referendum decision, which in itself can have severe consequences for the workplace. Data from 31 police forces showed that 1,546 racially or religiously aggravated offences were recorded in the two weeks up to and including the day of the referendum. (Independent 2016) How this translates and effects the culture and dynamics within the workplace is a further non legislative concern that employers will need to contend with. Divisions in society do not normally disappear as we enter the world of work and to manage employee engagement as a result of the dynamics that are unfolding in society becomes a reality for employers and a priority to deal with.

Review of business practices as negotiations with suppliers begin to dictate and push business in a direction they may not have considered are also of great importance for employers.  Such decisions may urge employers to review their reward strategies and consider other ways in which costs could be managed.  As employers begin to work through the greyness of a post Brexit world challenges for

the leadership teams may demand a high degree of assurance and support during this period of change.

In terms of an overview this stream encourages an examination of a range of key areas that employment legislation can effect:

  • As issues around free movement of persons are debated an examination of Recruitment, Retention, Talent Pools and Succession planning become key.
  • Impact and challenges for leaders during Post Brexit negotiations are also significant.
  • Managing change as business practices react quickly to a post Brexit world may be required.
  • Exploring impact on policy, processes and contracts as employment legislation becomes the main subject of discussion is vital.
  • Maintaining and building Employee communication and engagement as stability and uncertainty prevail.
  • As cost saving exercises are explored an examination of existing reward strategies and pay negotiations may become a dominant dialogue within the workplace.