What does the triggering of Article 50 mean for recruiters?

29 Mar 2017


After resignations, a new government, a Supreme Court challenge, and the threat of another Scottish referendum, it’s finally happened. Today, 278 days after the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU), Theresa May invoked Article 50(2) of the Lisbon Treaty of the EU. But what is Article 50, what does it mean for recruiters and what happens next? We summarise below.

What is Article 50?

Article 50(2) of the Lisbon Treaty outlines, in just five paragraphs, the process for the withdrawal of a member from the EU. Now the UK has two years to negotiate its withdrawal, unless the remaining 27 EU states unanimously agree to an extension. The final exit deal will need to be approved by a qualified majority of the European Council and will need the consent of the European Parliament and national parliaments.

What’s changed?

Nothing will change during the negotiating period. All EU regulations will continue to apply and must be abided by in the UK. Even after Britain officially leaves the EU, there will be continuity to a certain extent. This is because the “Great Repeal Bill” (a white paper on this bill is expected tomorrow) will repeal the European Communities Act and absorb EU legislation into UK law. We will publish another update on the Great Repeal Bill once we’ve seen the white paper. In the meantime, you can keep candidates and clients updated with our handy factsheets.

What do we know about the government and the EU’s negotiating position?

The Prime Minister used her letter to emphasise that government wants to negotiate “a deep and special partnership” with Europe. She restated the government’s 12 negotiating objectives and made clear the government’s intention to negotiate an ‘ambitious’ free trade and customs agreement with the EU, protect the rights of EU nationals already in the UK and introduce limits to EU migration. The letter makes it absolutely clear that the negotiations will consider the whole of the UK – including the devolved nations and should take particular account of the border with Ireland. Watch this space for our research on immigration very shortly.

Protecting workers’ rights is also a priority for Theresa May. It is therefore unlikely that we are going to see any rowing back of EU-derived employment legislation. We will, of course, continue to represent our industry’s views to government on this key issue.

The EU, fearful that others will leave too, has adopted a tough stance so far and has indicated that they will not compromise on EU principles such as freedom of movement. Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, is expected to share draft negotiating principles with the remaining EU member states and, make an initial statement on 31 March.

What is the REC doing?

We will continue to represent you by making the case in Westminster and beyond for a future EU / UK relationship that supports Britain’s flexible labour market.  We will keep members updated through webinars, sector events and our Brexit blogs.  We will also be producing some more advice, to supplement our existing information for clients and candidates. We are currently analysing the options for post-Brexit immigration policy in the UK and we will share our research with government and members shortly. Report on Jobs and JobsOutlook show the severity of the skills crisis and it is essential that the government heeds the calls of the business community.

In the meantime, we need you to keep telling us about how Brexit is impacting your business. This will help bring our data and research to life and strengthen our case in discussions with government.

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