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Preparing for Brexit – Business Owner’s Guide (Part 2)

In Part 1 of our Preparing for Brexit Business Owner’s Guide last week we covered some of the vital actions business owners will need to take to make sure their business is ready for Brexit.  Brexit is looming ever closer and we’re still unsure of the deal Britain will negotiate and what sort of business environment we’ll be operating in during the coming years.  Today we’re finishing off our guide with the rest of the vital issues business owner’s need to take care of to ensure that Brexit doesn’t have a negative impact on their business and livelihood.

  • Develop a contingency plan – There is no guarantee that border procedures will operate smoothly after Brexit so companies will need a contingency plan for if systems fail.  With Dover as a potential bottleneck, companies may need to consider alternative shipping arrangements or more warehousing.  In 2005 Australia adopted a new customs procedure and, despite all the planning, the procedure seized up within two days, leaving the whole country short of medical supplies and toys in the run up to Christmas.  The price of warehouse space is currently increasing rapidly so if your business is likely to need extra space of this kind, now is the time to make the necessary arrangements.

  • Know your employees’ nationalities – The EU withdrawal bill will transpose most EU employment regulations into UK law and Brexit negotiations seek to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK.  Employers need to understand the rights and status of all their EU workers to ensure that they are employing them legally after Brexit.  This needs to be done regardless of the transition so we would recommend monitoring your workforce in terms of where each employee works and their immigration status and then regularly review their employment contracts.

  • Intellectual property – Intellectual property protection (including patents, trademarks, registered designs and copyright) could all change after Brexit.  According to the government, European patents will still apply here in the UK, although Britain is still “exploring its options” in other IP areas such as trademarks and designs because some of these are likely to lapse after Brexit.  Companies need to act now to protect their existing rights in the UK after Brexit but this is difficult right now because our government has not yet developed an alternative plan.  

  • Ensure adequate cash flow for VAT, additional inventory and investment – Because VAT will be charged at the border when importing goods and services companies may face cash flow problems – at present, intra-EU trade is exempt from VAT payments.  Cash flow problems are likely to be worse for companies that need to hold additional inventory as insurance against potential border delays.

While the future still looks pretty uncertain as the Brexit deal is being negotiated, taking care of the issues that you are able to address now is a major step towards protecting your business and income from the effects of Brexit.