Whether you voted for or against Brexit, there is no doubt that the result of the referendum will have profound effects on this country and the people who live in it for years to come. But in the short-term, what does it mean for those who work in local trades?
The situation now
Despite the referendum result, for now, we remain in the EU. This means that all the existing health and safety regulations, environmental directives, workplace regulations, rights and responsibilities still apply. All individuals and employees with a passport from an EU country continue to be entitled to work in the UK, with all the freedoms and rights that involves. UK citizens likewise continue to be entitled to live and work across the EU.
The UK will stay in the EU until the end of the negotiations that the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, is likely to trigger by invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon (the legal device that starts the process for a nation officially leaving the EU). The Government will decide when to trigger Article 50 to start the process.
Once Article 50 has been invoked, the UK and the EU Member States will negotiate the terms of our exit. All this is likely to take at least two years.
Changes to legislation
It is only at the conclusion of the Brexit negotiations, and after an official exit from the EU, that any rights or legislation would be likely to change. Many EU-derived legislation is now part of UK law in any event and will therefore not change when the UK leaves the European Union. This includes some of the key areas for traders, such as the Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 and Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.
However we will not know what EU-derived legislation will be upheld or repealed by the UK Government until after the conclusion of the Brexit. It will be up to Government to decide what to keep, what to amend and what to shelve. This process will be complicated and could take months or even years.
The financial impact on small business
Many of you work in trades that are likely to feel the least impact from any changes in our country’s economic circumstances. People will always need their cars fixed, lighting installed and their plumbing repaired. But if consumers have less money in their pocket to pay for these things, this could still have a negative impact on businesses.
Money matters. As of mid-July 2016, the UK pound has dropped sharply against other currencies. If this continues, goods imported into this country could become more expensive. This could affect many consumer goods – most crucially petrol, food and even energy. The tools of your trade, your transport costs and overheads on business premises may rise as a result.
As of today, no one knows how things will play out. Although it feels like everything is different, as yet there is no real change in how we conduct our business, work with customers or live our lives. There will be more change to come, but for now we are still in the EU, all the rules still apply and we carry on as before.
Find out more information about Brexit from the Which? Brexit Hub.