NI: Arthur Cox seminar offers Brexit advice to Belfast businesses

Emma-Jane Flannery, Scott Alexander and Fiona Wills
Pictured (l-r): Emma-Jane Flannery, Scott Alexander and Fiona Wills

Arthur Cox provided leading Northern Ireland businesses with advice on the impact of Brexit on employment and immigration laws at a major seminar held in conjunction with Legal-Island.

More than 80 HR professionals from some of Northern Ireland’s largest businesses attended the seminar yesterday, which was so oversubscribed that an extra afternoon session was held.

Emma-Jane Flannery, employment law partner at Arthur Cox’s Belfast practice, urged local employers with large contingents of EU national workers to carry out a workforce audit as soon as possible to ensure they are fully prepared for any possible post-Brexit changes.

She also warned of the potential for wide-ranging ramifications for employers with cross-border operations.

Ms Flannery said: “While a lot of our employment law is likely to be cushioned from Brexit shocks, there is significant potential for employers with a large number of EU national workers to be impacted – and they must fully prepare for that.

“Depending on the structure of the post-Brexit trade arrangement agreed by the UK, EU national workers could face restrictions on working in Northern Ireland if they haven’t lived in the UK for the required five years in order to obtain permanent residency certification.

“It’s important that such employers carry out an audit of their workforce to ascertain how many could be vulnerable to post-Brexit restrictions and potentially become illegal workers.

“At the same time, employers should also communicate regularly with their employees to assure them that there will be no changes in the short-term, as this will help maintain staff morale.

“Such an audit would help employers identify skills gaps which are likely to emerge and gauge whether the local jobs market can meet any shortfall.

“HR managers should also monitor any recruitment or redundancy campaigns to ensure that EU nationals are not being discriminated against as employers look ahead to the UK’s exit from the EU.”

Commenting on the event, Scott Alexander, head of learning and development at Legal-Island, added: “There has been a lot of commentary about the potential impact of Brexit on employment law since the EU vote. These seminars provided the perfect opportunity, a month on, for delegates to receive considered, expert advice from Arthur Cox and we thank Emma-Jane for her professional insights.

“The messages are a perfect example of how Brexit is likely to have an impact across a wide range of laws and, from the significant interaction between the delegates and Emma-Jane, it was clear that companies are very much planning for the changes.”

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