The Effect of Brexit on Global Relocation Programs

indexOn June 23rd Great Britain voted to leave the European Union which has many employers questioning how this crucial vote might affect their own global employee mobility and business.

Fortunately this process could take up to two years to complete which should allow for time to plan and prepare for changes to global relocation employee benefit programs.

Perhaps the biggest issue relates to visa requirements.  With Great Britain voting to exit the European Union, Great Britain is free to legislate limits on immigration and the movement of employees within the EU.  The European Union could in turn require visas for all British  nationals travelling and working within the EU.  Whether or not this actually happens is probably too early to predict.

If EU citizens are living and working in Great Britain, they may have to apply for visas in order to continue on assignment.  The same can be said for British nationals living and working in the European Union.  Global Mobility leaders need to plan ahead to avoid disruptions in operations because of these possible new requirements. There is little doubt that restrictions in the free movement of employees and labor will have a major impact on global talent management.  If access to talent is restricted, the talent pool may be limited, thus creating talent management issues and rising costs. 

The shipment of household goods could also be affected.  If a corporation wishes to move a European Union employee to Great Britain or a British national to the EU, there may be delays  with goods in transit.  Household goods could be subject to additional inspections by customs or experience delays by the uncertainty created because of the new changes to Great Britain’s status within the European Union.

Currently Great Britain harmonizes their employment laws with European Union requirements which results in greater employee rights (inclusion of commissions/overtime in the calculation of vacation/holiday pay, etc.).  The Brexit vote could have Great Britain returning to more employer friendly employment laws which would have a large impact on employment.

Although a clear picture has not emerged from the Brexit vote, global mobility leaders and corporations should look at their expat population to identify which employees are likely to be affected in the future.  Some of these employees could be affected by Brexit, resulting in additional time needed for immigration issues that could come up.

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