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Employers, brace yourself: Brexit is coming

03 December 2020 Christophe Hameeuw Employers

Brexit has had a lot of feet in the ground. Since 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) is no longer part of the European Union (EU). From then on, a transition phase was initiated that will run until the end of this year. During this period, virtually nothing changes and all EU rules and legislation, the internal market and customs union remain in force.

That will change quickly, because on 1 January 2021, the UK will leave the EU for real and the British will go their separate ways. An exit that has far-reaching consequences for companies and their employees on both sides of the channel. Good advice: brace yourself, Brexit is coming.

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Brexit's impact on…

What can employers expect after Brexit? What will the new UK-EU relationship look like? We will have more clarity on the relationship once the negotiations are over. They will continue until the end of the transitional period. We discuss the impact of Brexit below, to the extent it is already known.

… immigration

From now on, Belgians travelling to the UK or vice versa need an international passport. It will only be possible to enter with a national ID card under certain conditions and in certain circumstances. Furthermore, an exemption from a 'short stay' visa will apply to Britons coming to Belgium and visa versa. A visa is required for longer employment and/or residence.

... living and working

Britons who:

  • have been living in Belgium with an electronic card before 31 December 2020, must convert their residence permit to a new electronic residence card. Only then can they continue to work in Belgium;
  • have been working as a cross-border worker in Belgium before 31 December 2020, must submit an application for an electronic card for minor border traffic at the municipality where they usually work. This card gives unlimited access to the labour market, but no residential rights. However, the rights around entry and exit are protected. Seconded employees are not qualified as cross-border workers.

After 31 December 2020, the free movement of people between the EU and the UK will come to an end. British citizens will then become 'third-country citizens' who are only allowed to live and work in an EU member state under strict conditions. Belgians who go to the UK to live and work there also need permission.

... social security

At the end of the day, the EU and the UK have reached an agreement that will allow workers with an international employment pattern to continue applying the current EU rules. Only in the case of temporary secondment to and from the UK, can Member States provide exceptions. However, Belgium decided at the beginning of January 2021 to retain the existing rules on secondment between Belgium & the UK after Brexit.

… customs matters

Do you operate on the market and do you still want to complete customs formalities in the UK after the end of the transition period? Then you urgently need to apply for a new EORI (Economic Operator Registration and Identification) number.

… taxation and double taxation treaty

Brexit has no bearing on the double taxation treaty between Belgium and the UK. The current rules on taxability of professional income in Belgium or the UK remain unchanged, even after 31 December 2020.

... labour law

Last but not least, the UK no longer have to comply with EU rules on the wage and working conditions of seconded employees, the law applicable to employment contracts or the competent court in international employment disputes. The UK has already formulated similar rules. We can prudently determine that employment contracts and applicable working conditions need not be adjusted. Administrative obligations arising in specific situations, such as the Limosa notification and the secondment letter, also remain applicable.

Keep in mind that new agreements can be concluded even after the transition period. Although the outlines are gradually becoming clearer, not all the consequences, interpretations and procedures are crystal clear yet. The rules of the game can therefore still change.

Want to prepare your organization for the unknown?

A lot will change after 31 December 2020. Proper preparation for all possible aspects of Brexit is necessary to ensure the continuity of your organisation. Count on the expertise and know-how of Acerta International and act today.

Acerta International

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Written by Christophe Hameeuw

Managing consultant Tax & International

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