The Build Up To The EU Referendum And Its Impact On Recruitment In Britain

What is taking place on 23rd June 2016? Well, most of the people living in Britain, and no doubt elsewhere, know the answer to that question. 23rd June 2016 is the date that those of a voting age in Britain – and many British expats around the world – will vote to decide whether Britain remains a part of the European Union or whether it exits. As an employer, perhaps you have noticed if there has been an effect on your business with all the type around the EU referendum, either positive or negative. For example, has the build up to the EU referendum had any impact on your recruitment strategy?

First of all, let me say what this article is not. It is not an article that is laying down any argument for or against Britain remaining a part of the EU. It is simply a look at some of the points put forward by those in the ‘Brexit’ camp and those in the remain camp. In particular, it’s a glance at what each camp claims will be the impact on businesses and employers and no doubt you have your own views on this, too.

The EU Referendum – An Emotive Subject

Perhaps not surprisingly, the lead up to the EU referendum has made the topic of leaving or staying within the European Union an emotive subject which has divided businesses, politicians and the general public. And this has not become a division between different political parties but also public differences of opinion within parties; the division between Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, perhaps being the most obvious and certainly the most public.

Internationally, Britain’s June EU referendum is also making waves. On a recent visit to the UK, president of the United States, Barack Obama made a speech where he openly supported those in the remain camp and suggested an exit would harm trade and business ties with the United States. Does this concern you as an employer? France has also made its unease felt by Britain’s potential leaving of the European Union.

What is for certain is that we are dealing with the unknown. Both the Brexit campaign campaign and the Remain campaign can share numbers and statistics to suit the arguments they put forward but the reality is, no country has ever left the EU so no one knows what the actual effect will be. After promising a referendum, David Cameron now has to leave it to voters to sift through those arguments and statistics and decide for themselves what they think the best route will be for the future of the UK.

What this article is not: This article is not a ‘Brexit’ or a ‘Remain’ in the EU argument. The referendum is going to happen and we are considering the effect for employers in the run up to, and no doubt immediately after, the referendum, too, whatever the result.

What Are The Options For Britain If Voters Vote To Leave The European Union?

So, let’s take a quick look, first of all, at some of the options that are being put forward by those in favour of leaving the EU. What will the outcome be for trade and industry? After all, these outcomes are ones that are going to have an effect on businesses throughout Britain and you as an employer.

Suggestions put forward by those in favour of leaving the EU are:

  • It can be an ‘amicable divorce’ between Britain and the European Union – If Britain leaves the EU, ties between the two can be renegotiated. It doesn’t have to be a complete severance and strong business and trade links can be retained with European Union countries so that UK businesses don’t get faced with large tariffs for the trade. Britain can have a free trade agreement with the EU but not be tied to EU law or have free movement of people.
  • Britain will have more control of its own affairs – Those in favour of Britain leaving the European Union say that if Britain leaves, it will be free to make its own decisions about agriculture, fishing quotas, justice and home affairs without interference from the European Union.
  • A clean break – Some ‘Brexit’ campaigners suggest making a complete clean break from the European Union when it comes to trade and rely on membership of the World Trade Organisation.
  • Leaving the EU will save money – No more membership fees for being part of the European Union would save Britain money, those in the ‘Leave’ camp say. This money can be better spent in Britain.
  • SMEs will benefit – Are you an employer that recruits staff to your small or medium-sized company? Those who are in favour of Britain leaving the European Union believe small and medium-sized enterprises will benefit because they will no longer be tied to European Union regulations which hold them back. They argue that the British market is dynamic and will soon adapt to leaving the EU and SMEs will have more freedom to flourish.

What do those who support remaining in the European Union suggest?

Here are some of the points they argue:

  • A loss of migrant workers – If Britain leaves the EU, many migrant workers who have had a positive effect on the economy will be forced to leave. Perhaps your company would feel a direct effect of this? Also, as well as losing migrant workers, in future years, there will be a more limited pool of talent for recruitment because British firms will be unable to choose from European employees quite so easily. If your company employs staff from EU member countries, perhaps this is already an issue you are considering.
  • An ‘amicable divorce’ is not possible – Those who support staying in the European Union question the possibility of an ‘amicable divorce.’ After all, they argue, why are other European countries just going to sit back and allow Britain to leave with special trade agreements? Why should Britain be allowed to have it all ways? Any negotiating of these trade agreements could take years, European countries could choose to make life difficult for Britain in the meantime and this will have a detrimental effect on the economy and on jobs around Britain.
  • EU standards will still need to be met – If Britain wants to continue trading with the European Union, European Union standards will still need to be met but if they are not part of the union, they won’t have any say on how these standards are drawn up, what should be included and how they should be implemented. There will be no place at the negotiating table for Britain.
  • Millions of British jobs will be lost – Those who want to remain a part of the European Union say millions of British jobs will go as large international companies will look to work with a more competitive EU. The ‘remain’ campaign argue that around 3 million jobs linked to being part of the European Union and, in particular, the foreign-owned car industry at risk. They say the financial services sector is also concerned about Britain no longer being part of the European Union. Are you an employer is any of these sectors? Do you share the same concerns?
  • Leaving the EU will harm the competitiveness of British businesses – Those who will vote ‘stay’ in Britain’s EU referendum say that, as a worst case scenario, rather than there being trade agreements negotiated between Britain and the European Union, there could actually be a trade war where British businesses would suffer and lose out. When it comes to business and trade, Britain could end up being the outsider, left on the sidelines with few friends to play with.

British Jobs And The EU Referendum

So, in the run up to the EU referendum in June, what are your thoughts about the effect this is having on British jobs and recruitment? As an employer, have you altered your recruitment strategy in any way?

One certainty is that none of us really know what will happen to the British economy and jobs until after the referendum. If British voters vote to leave the European Union, will those companies who have said they’ll leave Britain actually leave? Will the United States prefer to trade with the EU over Britain? Will there be ‘consequences’ from France?

Naturally, there are lots of questions and lots of ifs and buts that cannot be answered or decided upon until the referendum has taken place – it is difficult, if not impossible, to put figures on either the number of jobs that will be created or the number of jobs that will be lost. So, where does this leave you as an employer? The British economy and business growth enjoys certainty and when it comes to the question of Britain staying in the European Union or leaving, we can’t enjoy that until we know the outcome.

The Run Up To Britain’s EU Referendum – Now Could Be An Ideal Time To Recruit

For the first time this year, unemployment has risen in Britain and one of the reasons stated for this is the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the EU referendum. Employers are not recruiting as many new staff as they normally would – indeed, some may not be recruiting at all, right now – because they want to see the outcome of the EU referendum first.

What is your company doing when it comes to recruitment over the next few weeks? Are you following suit and hanging fire like many other British companies are doing?

Have you thought that now could actually be an ideal time to recruit staff to your company? There is a lot of young talent out there and right now, lots of that talent is looking for student jobs, graduate careers and also apprenticeships. We have written lots in the past about beating the competition to attract that talent to your company. This can be through writing great job ads or offering perks to your staff, for example.

If other companies have made the decision to put a temporary hold on their recruitment programmes while they await the outcome of the EU referendum, now could be a great time to step in there ahead of your competition and get first choice of all that young talent out there that is keen to start work. When it comes to recruitment, you could turn the uncertainty surrounding the referendum to your advantage.

E4S attracts thousands of young job seekers to its website on a daily basis. Whatever size of company you are, whether you have temporary work available for students, part time weekend jobs, exciting graduate opportunities on offer or you are looking to employ young apprentices to help drive your company forward, why not advertise your job vacancies with E4S and get ahead of the competition in landing Britain’s young talent?