How to prepare for Brexit

The situation as it currently stands is that the UK will leave the EU on 31 October 2019 (or earlier if Parliament approves the withdrawal agreement before that date). It is also possible that the UK and EU could agree a further extension to the Brexit date, although Boris Johnson has made clear his position that the UK must leave on 31 October, with or without a deal.

One of the issues of particular interest to many organisations is the impact of Brexit on their European workforce in the UK. The UK Government and the EU negotiators have reached an agreement on citizens’ rights, under which EU citizens who arrive in the UK by 31 December 2020, the end of the transition period, will be entitled to apply for “settled status” when they have five years’ continuous residence in the UK. This will give them the right to stay indefinitely.

In the event of a “no-deal” Brexit, the Government’s position is that the transition period for EU citizens in the UK would not apply, so only EU citizens who are resident in the UK by Brexit day would be eligible to apply under the settlement scheme. The position for UK citizens in the EU if there is no deal is less clear, as it depends on the approach of each individual country.

Under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, EU law will be converted into UK law when the UK leaves the EU. This means that current workers’ rights under EU law, such as working time rights, will remain in effect after Brexit, but will become subject to Parliament’s control over domestic law.

The Act also confirms that, from exit day, UK courts will no longer be bound by new decisions of the European Court of Justice, although decisions made before exit day will continue to be binding on UK courts. The final court of appeal will be the UK Supreme Court. The jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights is, however, unaffected by Brexit.

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