Watch the webinar
- Matthew Fell, Chief UK Policy Director, CBI
- Seema Farazi, UK Immigration Leader for Financial Services and Brexit, EY
- Craig Prendergast, Country HR Manager, UK, ABB
- Liz Moseley, Editor and Partner, Tortoise Media (chair)
In this session:
Matthew Fell kicked off the session with an update on Monday’s announcements: including that the final stage of the roadmap has been pushed back to 19 July and the covid reviews we were also expecting will now be published 12 July. These announcements are particularly pertinent for those sectors already heavily impacted including hospitality, leisure, and live events. Furthermore, while firms would prioritise irreversibility over stops and starts, it has dented business confidence in the roadmap overall. Going forward, we have to adapt to living with the virus so it’s important that the government remains transparent and timely on sharing data and rationale on decisions to help businesses plan with confidence.
· On testing: we have had confirmation that workplace testing will be extended until 19 July and on ‘Test to Release’: if we can get this working well it should minimise disruption.
· On furlough and JRS: will remain as it is until end of July, then the government contributions will change from 80% to 70%.
· On business rates: holiday due to decrease on 1 July, but pushing to extend this.
· On Commercial rent moratorium: due to end 1 July but also pushing for this to be extended for those most impacted sectors.
On international travel: Matthew highlighted that much of the media attention has been around summer holidays but also has different ramifications for businesses. These include the inbound tourism sector, firms ability to trade goods via air freight, and for those firms with service contracts that need to send engineers around the world. Huge supply chains issues connected to all of this, for example, around regional airports. Facing twin challenges on this front:
· First is around ongoing covid restrictions, with traffic light system remaining in place and very few countries on the ‘green list’. Going forward, we need to grow green list of countries and consider how best we streamline testing and quarantine processes, as well as develop travel corridors when it is safe to do so.
· In parallel with this, firms are also facing changes in the trading relationship with the EU post Brexit with firms - only now coming to the fore.
Seema Farazi started by identifying that the effects of Brexit have been somewhat muted by the pandemic. We’re talking about the loss of free movement rights and a new 90 days over 180 days visa-free allowance – with anything above that requiring formal clearance. These days also include personal and business travel. Means firms have to ask themselves “am I spending the right amount of time doing this activity” and “is the activity permitted within the new rules?”. This is something businesses have never had to think about before.
· In terms of pressure points, each country will have their own controls over immigration policy, others may have more restrictive policies and others a bit more flexible. However will be a resource heavy task for businesses to undertake, ensuring they are fully compliant with each member-state rules, for example: what are our travel lanes, where are our people going, what do they need to do, and do we have the right governance in place.
· In addition, with the shift in virtual working has come significant demand for cross-border remote work. Not based on the footprint of the company but the individual and we have seen some demand for cross-border/remote work with the EU and this is incredibly challenging. Now post-Brexit, because working abroad or remotely would be seen as ‘productive work’, there’s now lots of complexities in how companies as we have lost freedom of movement. Lots of firms struggling to manage these requests and put the right countries in place.
· In addition, not all countries in the EU are in the Schengen Zone – so also requires a lot of internal resource to ensure compliance among firms.
Recommending that while international travel is quieter, companies should use this time to work on frameworks, governance and compliance with the new rules as they relate to their own operations.
Craig Prendergast introduced ABB - a global organisation, operating in just over 100 countries. ABB have been saying to customers that ‘we need to change the way we operate’ and have had to work with customers in a collaborative way in order to meet challenges over the past 18 months stemming from both covid and Brexit. There two elements to their work with clients abroad: I) traditional sales/customer relationship management and II) servicing and installation of products which are included in contracts.
· These challenges have accelerated their investment in technologies like remote monitoring and new ways of working – which is positive but they recognise they also need to consider their operating models and recruitment processes in new ways going forward to meet the needs of their customers. For example, they’re thinking more locally about skills planning and doing more recruitment from in-country.
· There has also been a positive impact from a sustainability perspective with a move towards less international travel – ABB want to support customers to reduce their carbon footprint and increase efficiencies, and difficulties around international travel has forced these conversations.