Brexit – How do you prepare for the unknown?

Five areas organizations can tackle now

Brexit. It hasn’t even happened yet but it’s already creating countless questions — and more than a few headaches — for governments, companies and citizens in the United Kingdom (UK), across the European Union (EU), and outside the EU as well. With potential disruptions to one of the biggest markets in the world and much speculation on how the regulatory landscape will look after Brexit day in March 2019, there is much uncertainty.

So, how do you prepare for the unknown? Whether your firm is based in or works with the UK, the result of the potential changes due to Brexit mean that businesses will need to be adaptable in order to quickly take advantage of opportunities, mitigate risks, and stay in compliance. People and businesses who are affected by Brexit have a lot on their mind. This blogpost highlights five areas that organizations can tackle now.

The UK cannot escape the GDPR

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can be seen as a replacement for the UK Data Protection Act, which was introduced in 1995 as a UK equivalent to the EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive.

However, there appears to be some misunderstanding about the UK’s obligations under the GDPR post-Brexit. A 2017 poll found that one in four UK companies cancelled GDPR preparation because of Brexit.

A couple of points to highlight here:
• We already know that the GDPR will come into effect almost a full year before
Brexit which means that the UK will need to be in compliance by May 2018, exit or no exit.
• According to the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), it is likely that the UK will write the GDPR into law

Better time than ever to update your records management program

If your organization currently has operations in the UK it is likely many of your records retention schedules are based on requirements mandated by EU laws. The reason being, many UK recordkeeping requirements provide a minimum retention period either directly or indirectly through EU regulations.

However, after Brexit, the UK will have the option to make changes to these laws, potentially impacting the rules for what records to keep, how they are managed, and for how long. Records management programs and policies will need to be reviewed in full to ensure that any changes to regulations are incorporated…and that existing rules that have not been complied with, get implemented now.

Practice contract hygiene

For organizations in the UK and those that have contracts in place with a UK company, they will need to conduct an examination of their contracts and contract lifecycle management processes to effectively prepare for the changes Brexit may bring. For example, there will be impacts on commercial contracts to governing law, travel restrictions, jurisdiction, payments terms, and data privacy.

Existing contracts which will endure beyond departure date in March 2019 must be reviewed first. Contracts currently under negotiation and that will endure beyond Brexit must also take Brexit into account.

Help employees to keep calm and carry on

According to international law firm TaylorWessing, “Legislation emanating from the European Union has arguably become the leading source of UK employee protection legislation over the last fifteen to twenty years.”

It is possible that an outcome of the UK’s exit from the EU will be a desire by the UK government to remove or change some aspects of existing UK employment regulation which have proved unpopular with UK business and such removal or changes may or may not be viewed by employees as positive. During times of change, communication should be top priority within affected enterprises. Human Resources leaders must develop a proactive communication strategy and provide a channel for employees to request support and ask questions. Employers must be ready to address employee queries both pre- and post-Brexit.

Keep your customers informed

As the UK separates from the EU, impacted organizations may need to modify customer communications—such as bills, statements, insurance policies and mortgage applications—to reflect any potential regulation changes. There is also – depending on factors such as where products are manufactured, supply chain disruptions, and increases or decreases in market share post-Brexit – the potential for prices to go up.

As fear, uncertainty and doubt abound pre- and post-Brexit, UK companies will be challenged more than ever, to operate as customer-obsessed firms; and this means good customer communications should be a top priority.

Impacted organizations shouldn’t wait until they have all the information before preparing for Brexit. There is good work that can be done now to get your house in order, to organize your own business or improve behavior in order to move forward successfully.

Learn how to overcome Brexit uncertainties.

Janet de Guzman

Janet is Director, Compliance Group in Product Marketing and is responsible for the go-to-market strategies for OpenText governance, risk and compliance solutions.

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