The United Kingdom European Union membership referendum is scheduled to take place on 23 June 2016. Recent polls suggest voters are split, but that support for an exit is rising.
Should the Yes vote win on the day, some commentators believe that Ireland could gain economically through increased foreign direct investment (FDI) as Britain would be a far less attractive place for firms to invest in. Recent research shows that EU membership increases FDI from outside the EU by 27 per cent. For this reason some foreign firms could opt to leave a post-Brexit UK and seek a new foothold in the EU through Ireland. In fact, the Irish Central Bank has begun preparations for an influx of investment managers from the UK amid fears that fund houses will no longer be able to sell their products from London.
Notwithstanding the fact that the majority of employment law originates from the EU, somewhat surprisingly, Irish and UK law does differ. For example, there are some significant differences when it comes to matters such as compensation for unfair dismissal.
Although a vote to leave the EU is unlikely to result in the mass unravelling of employment provisions in the UK, it could nevertheless increase the differences between both jurisdictions as the UK have had longstanding issues with the EU on such things as working time, holiday pay, agency workers, some aspects of TUPE and employee bonuses, particularly in the financial sector. An EU exit could therefore mean that HR professionals potentially will need knowledge of both jurisdictions.
We have put together an infographic setting out some of the key employment law differences between Ireland and the UK as of today. These could easily widen over time, however, for now, new companies looking to move or expand in Ireland will need to be aware of these differences.
Finally, and as can be seen though the early skirmishes between both campaigns, there could be significant immigration issues for employers in the event of a 'Brexit' vote. Free movement of workers from the EU both into and out of the UK could result in the need for visas. Given the fact that there are over 300,000 Irish people working in the UK, this could create significant difficulties. The result of this referendum is therefore keenly awaited on all fronts.
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