Around three and a half years after the UK voted for Brexit, the clock is ticking towards 11 pm on 31st December 2020, the date upon which the United Kingdom will start a new trading relationship with the European Union. Despite being so close to the end of the transition period, there are still a number of things that Boris Johnson and his Cabinet must iron out. Having missed the original deadline of 15th October, the Prime Minister has very little time left to agree on a trade deal. If a deal isn’t struck, the UK will leave the EU without any trading agreements in place. So it goes without saying that whatever happens in the coming weeks, from 1st January 2021, things will be different, deal or no deal. Established businesses can expect to feel the effects of Brexit, be that positive or negative depending on which side of the fence you sit. The UK’s smallest companies, including freelancers and contractors, have also been told by the government to prepare for change. But what specifically do contractors need to know about Brexit? And what, if anything at all, can we be confident of as the transition period comes to an end? No guarantees over EU working As part of the EU, UK citizens are granted freedom of movement thanks to access to the Single Market. However, things are set to change when the transition period ends on New Year’s Eve and there will be no guarantee that contractors can live, work or retire in EU countries going forward. This is at least something we can be certain of. It means contractors living in the UK but working with clients in the EU may well need a visa or work permit to continue doing so. Given the rules vary country to country it’s worth checking this page on the government website. Similarly, if you’re a contractor living and working in an EU country, you should check this page for the latest guidance on visas, work permits and residency. Immigration changes beckon Most foreign nationals, including those from EU states, will need to apply online for a visa if they want to live and work in the UK next year. A ‘points-based’ immigration system will decide this, with the government aiming to encourage what they perceive to be ‘skilled-workers’ to settle on these shores. A score is awarded to an applicant, who is marked based on a job offer (typically with a wage of at least £25,600), their grasp of the English language and skill level in a desirable occupation. How tailored this system is towards overseas freelancers and contractors remains to be seen. If you’re an EU national already living in the UK, or move here before 31st December 2020, you do not need to go through this process. Instead, you’re required to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme before 30th June 2021. It is worth noting that due to the Common Travel Area, Irish citizens retain the right to live and work in the UK and reciprocally UK nationals retain the right to live and work within Ireland post Brexit. IR35 considerations With changes to the IR35 legislation on the horizon, many contractors working through personal service companies registered in the UK want to know if the changes will apply to contracts held overseas, whether in the EU or further afield. In other words, from 6th April 2021, will contractors be responsible for assessing their IR35 status when working with medium and large businesses based abroad? Or will businesses be tasked with this? It depends, but Brexit won’t have any bearing. If a business is based wholly overseas without a permanent establishment in the UK, such an office, factory or residence, then IR35 reform isn’t a consideration. This means contractors can carry on determining their IR35 status beyond April 6th 2021. If a client is based abroad but has ties here in the UK, then the reform will apply and the business - assuming it is medium or large - must abide by the new rules. Contractors working with small private sector businesses, whether in the UK or overseas, will maintain responsibility for IR35. While there are still many unknowns for contractors regarding Brexit, we at least know that the UK will certainly leave the EU at the end of this month. And given the post-Brexit landscape is changing all the time, be sure to pay close attention to the government’s Brexit webpage, where you can stay up to date with everything you need to know.
Rhiannon joined the U's in Summer 2020 right in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic. With over three years' experience in recruiting for the not-for-profit sector, she came on board as our Head of Fundraising Recruitment, within our specialist Charity Division. We caught up with her to see how she's been getting on over the last months and what it was like starting a new job in such a tumultuous time. What was your career journey before joining Understanding Recruitment? I started off working in the hospitality industry before getting into recruitment. Before joining UR, I was working for a recruitment agency based in central London where I supported the market research industry before moving into fundraising recruitment within the not-for-profit sector. Having supported charities and higher education organisations for the last three years, I was looking for the next step in my career that would give me more autonomy. I was also planning to relocate to St. Albans, Hertfordshire and that's when I came across Understanding Recruitment who were looking for someone to head up their fundraising team. I applied, had some virtual interviews with the internal recruiter, hiring manager and the directors. Then the stars just aligned and I got the job! Why did you choose a career in recruitment? I've always loved forming relationships and listening to others, offering help where I can. Recruitment offered me the chance to do this, whilst having the variety to support a range of people and work on different projects each day. How did you find joining a new company during a pandemic? It was definitely a different experience, but surprisingly seamless! Everyone was very welcoming, and I was lucky enough to spend my first few weeks working in the office and meeting people in person while the Government was advising people to go back to the office. When we went back into lockdown we all worked from home and kept in touch virtually. What do you like best about working for Understanding Recruitment? Everyone is very supportive, and you get given the freedom to develop your desk as much as you want. They also provide the key resources needed to do this and always provide constructive advice when wanted. What would your advice be to recruiters thinking about moving to a different company/different industry? Make sure you do your due diligence. Always research the market or company first to ensure they match your own ambitions and will support you with these. How would you describe the culture? Everyone is really friendly at UR and always happy to help in any way they can when needed. There is a real feel of everyone wanting to see you succeed and supporting you to do so. There's also a great open-door policy and I always feel I can speak to anyone when I need to. What would your advice be to your younger self? Find a job that you enjoy where you get to work with people you like and who will continue to teach you new things! Curious about #LifeAtUR? We'd love to hear from you! DM Emily Kitamura on LinkedIn, email your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01727 228 255 to have chat about the opportunities we have for you.