How to Prepare for Brexit and Safeguard Your Global Mobility Programme

Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Angela Jackson

In our first blog post on this topic, we looked at reasons companies move headquarters around the world, in particular reference to Brexit. While the details around Brexit are yet to be finalised, here we advise on steps organisations can take, right now, to better understand the potential impact on their organisation and the mobility strategies available.

First, there are urgent steps to take to ensure continuity of service, alongside assessing the full impact on your organisation and employees. Then you need to determine what support you require and what level of support you will provide to your employees. You also need to futureproof your organisation to ensure your policies are well-informed and able to evolve with business requirements.

1. Take steps to ensure continuity of service

Your Relocation Management Company (RMC) should help you with the following:

  • Close monitoring of trade and immigration

Engage with visa and immigration providers or suppliers to closely monitor Brexit developments and the potential impact of Brexit (particularly a no-deal Brexit) on cross border activity – both the impact on visa and immigration activity as well as trade activity.

  • Banking

Confirm your banking relationships will remain compliant to allow a continuation of all financing and invoicing activities, unabated.

  • Trade

Ensure you have a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number.  Depending on the final terms agreed upon in a Brexit deal (or in a no-deal scenario), the EORI assures that your UK entities can continue to engage in cross border trading (both cross border services and the shipment of household goods) with EU countries as well as other countries, under rules of the World Trade Organization.  This means that your non-UK affiliates will be able to continue to work with your UK entities, and that other third parties – both clients and suppliers – can continue to work with your UK entities.

  • Document logistics

Confirm that your documents can continue to be transmitted to and from the UK via electronic delivery and with service providers such as FedEx.

  • Continuity of service

As a contingency, dependent on your worldwide scope, should complications arise in the relationships with your UK entities, ensure your affiliates can provide immediate assistance and assumption of non-UK activities, while your UK entities continue to service UK in-country activities.

2. Fully assess the impact of Brexit on your organisation

Below are 5 assessments you need to make:

  • Identify your impacted workforce population

What are the changes to tax and immigration and who is affected by this? Mapping your affected workforce population can help you to understand the scale in which you need to provide additional support. Your RMC should be working in partnership with immigration and tax partners to assess current populations that may be impacted by Brexit and advise accordingly.

  • Review and Secure Mobility Plans

How is Brexit shaping your organizational talent plan? Does it need reworking? Make sure your RMC is providing guidance on best practice approaches to talent and mobility support.

  • Evaluate Cost Impacts

Your RMC should be monitoring the potential cost impact of Brexit on your mobility programs. You should be making the following cost projections:

Brexit-Related Moves

  • Brexit-specific relocation policies
  • Brexit-related moves broken down by business line, function or destination location
  • Cost projection tools for HR and Talent functions

Current Mobility Program – Estimate the potential cost to standard mobility program activity

  • Immigration costs
  • Dual social security contributions
  • Household Goods Shipment costs
  • Temporary housing costs resulting from country-driven shipping timeline changes/delays
  • Supply and demand impact for temporary and local housing
  • Destination Location Impacts

Your RMC should be monitoring key locations in Europe receiving influxes of talent, due to companies either moving their headquarters or offices and/or switching up their mobility programmes in response to Brexit.

As with group moves, large influxes of people into a location can create strains on local supply chains that support mobility, such as: temporary housing, destination housing, education options, immigration processing, local registration processing and household goods shipments. We therefore advise you to be aware that your relocating employees may encounter issues with housing and education options, and inflated housing costs as demand increases and supply is limited. All of these will have an effect on your cost projections and employee experience and expectations.

  • Departure Location Impacts

Departure locations are also seeing volatility of supply and demand, for example temporary or local housing and education options. SIRVA has seen expat housing impacted where landlords are choosing to sell vs. rent their properties, causing issues such as premature moving which can disrupt an assignment and place increased pressure on companies and global mobility teams to find replacement housing for assignees, both new and existing.

Your RMC should also be advising on updated timelines for immigration processing, local registrations and household goods shipments, which may be significantly impacted.

3. Determine what support you need

Once you have assessed the impact of Brexit on your company, determine what services you need and what services your business is willing to cover.

  • Brexit Program Consulting

Clients that require Brexit-specific consultation have chosen to either make changes to their existing mobility program, or create separate programs to directly address Brexit-specific relocation initiatives and support. Both options are favourable, but depend on your organisation’s needs.

  • Brexit Group Move Support

If you are deciding to move certain functions out of the UK, you may want to adopt a group move approach, designed to achieve cost efficiencies and synergy. You may, however, consider a more phased approach until further clarification is provided by the UK.

  • Commercial Moving Support

If you are assessing moving groups, functions and commercial assets to alternate locations, your RMC should be ready to provide guidance on of the logistical support you will need to manage a commercial move.


4. Decide what type of support you will offer your employees

See below a range of approaches we have seen taken by our clients:

  • Deliver information (e.g. internal communications)
  • Develop guidance materials (e.g. ‘how to’ guides, apps, training sessions)
  • Provide assistance (training, dedicated team for queries, drop-ins)
  • Offer individual assistance (e.g. 1-to-1 meetings per employee to guide them through changes to processes)


5. Future-proof your organisation

Ensure your global mobility strategy is strengthened to meet similar future challenges, by reinforcing the following:

  • Recruitment and retention strategies
  • Global mobility policies
  • Right to work checks
  • Increase budgets and timelines


In summary, following the above steps can help you to assess the impact of Brexit on your existing global mobility strategies. Once informed, and with the help of your RMC, you will be better placed to deliver your projects now and in the future.

The most important guidance RMCs should be providing to impacted clients is to:

  • Identify potentially impacted populations
  • Explore options for mobility plans, processes and policies for when talent needs to move
  • Define potential changes to current mobility processes and policies
  • Provide insight to potential cost impacts


Other blog posts in this series:

Coming soon:

  • The effect of group relocation on preceding and succeeding host countries