The Brexit vote has significant cross-sector implications and has generated much uncertainty for employers. BLP’s analysis of Brexit can be read here and our review of Brexit’s employment law implications can be read here.
Employment in the energy sector is significantly influenced by EU legislation. Below we consider three key issues facing employers in the energy sector and outline what employers can do to manage HR risks resulting from Brexit.
1. Skills Shortage
The energy sector has experienced a shortage of workers with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills for some time and this trend looks set to continue in the aftermath of Brexit. There are a number of measures that employers may wish to consider to upskill their current workforce and attract new skilled workers. Rethinking training programmes, expanding apprenticeship schemes and collaborating with other businesses in the sector to help spread the cost of additional training could all help fill the necessary skills gaps.
2. Immigration Uncertainty
While the free movement of workers is likely to be central to the post-Brexit negotiations between the UK and EU, employers should start thinking about staffing and immigration issues now. Practical steps employers can take include auditing their workforce to find out where their employees work and what their immigration statuses are. Employees may be eligible to apply for permanent residence and employers should consider their EU-based expatriate arrangements to check when they end and how they can be terminated. Employers should be mindful when dealing with immigration issues that any measures they take do not give rise to potential discrimination claims.
3. Scottish Independence
With Brexit reopening the question of Scottish independence, the UK’s renewable energy sector faces a great deal of uncertainty in the months ahead. Employers can get ahead of the curve by taking practical steps now. Employers should check the governing law of their contracts of employment and whether their contracts have a mobility clause wide enough to cover a move outside of Scotland. Contracts for new starters and new contracts for existing staff can include a wide discretion on mobility to give employers maximum flexibility for the future.
BLP’s Employment group and Energy & Natural Resources sector group are reviewing the fallouts from Brexit and will keep you up-to-date about all employment and energy sector-related implications. We will also be hosting sector-specific roundtables to address the issues facing clients.