Post-Brexit Implications for UK/EU Business Travel
Following the end of the transitional period at 11pm GMT on 31 December 2020, free movement between the UK and the EU finally ended. From an immigration perspective alone this has enormous implications and represents more change than we have known for decades. In a post-Brexit world it is now more crucial than ever for companies to monitor the activities of their employees undertaking overseas business trips to ensure compliance with the relevant local laws. This article looks at some of the key things UK employers should be considering.
At 11pm on 31 December, EU nationals (but not Irish nationals) became subject to UK immigration control and must now meet the requirements of the UK’s Immigration Rules. At the same time, UK business travellers must meet the domestic laws of their destination EU country. For inter EU/UK travel, therefore, seeking immigration advice is now crucial in order to ascertain precisely what can, and cannot be done as a business visitor, or when a work permit is required. To put it simply, it is no longer possible to simply jump on plane and spend time in a European office, for example, or for a European colleague to turn up and work out of a UK office. The relevant local immigration laws must always be consulted well in advance.
From the UK’s perspective, the business visitor rules now apply to EU and non-EU nationals alike and the requirements are relatively clear. EU, EEA & Swiss national visitors may enter the UK for business purposes for up to six months at a time without applying for a visa in advance. Visitors are not permitted to take employment in the UK, but may undertake certain permitted activities which include:
- attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews;
- give a one-off or short series of talks and speeches provided these are not organised as commercial events and will not make a profit for the organiser;
- negotiate and sign deals and contracts;
- attend trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the visitor is not directly selling;
- carry out site visits and inspections;
- gather information for their employment overseas; and
- be briefed on the requirements of a UK based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK.
Under the intra-corporate provisions, an employee of an overseas based company may advise/consult, trouble shoot, train and share skills and knowledge on a specific internal project with UK employees of the same corporate group, provided no work is carried out directly with clients.
Importantly, payment from a UK source is prohibited, unless it is payment for reasonable expenses or if the activity falls within the definition of a very limited number of permitted paid activities. Payment is also allowable in the case of multinationals where their payroll is based out of the UK. Checking email and catching up with work whilst in the UK as a visitor must be incidental to the main reason for visiting the UK - an individual must not simply doing their jobs remotely from the UK, this would require a work visa.
From the EU’s perspective, the general rule is that business travellers can spend no more than 90 cumulative days in any 180 days undertaking business travel across the EU (notably the UK’s rules are more generous allowing visits of up to six months at a time). That said, permissible business activities are not uniform across all of the EU Member States and so the precise immigration requirements of the destination country need to be checked in advance. Where work permission is required, obtaining a work visa or residency permit can take many months in certain EU countries and so careful forward planning is now also crucial.
Finally, the recent EU/UK Trade & Cooperation Agreement contains certain welcome provisions around business mobility, for example in relation to defined categories such as contract service suppliers, business travellers and independent professionals, but these by no means go far enough to provide a meaningful alternative to free movement. Again, the provisions do not apply in the same way across each of the Member States, with some requiring economic needs tests and visas in advance. For the UK, for example, contract service suppliers will require an International Agreement (T5) visa in advance and the host company in the UK will require a sponsor licence under this category.
From an outbound perspective, the reality is that UK companies now have 27 different immigration regimes to contend with in relation to EU business travel and so great care is required to ensure compliance going forward.
The Future of Property Careers
Join to our panel discussion and Q&A with industry leaders on the range of opportunities within the property and construction sector.
Q&A: Talking the telecoms talk
Georgina Muskett and Jonathan Wills answer queries on Electronic Communications Code agreement.
Property Patter: Navigating the complexities of Pharmacy Property
Pharmacy property is a specialist area which contains many traps for the unwary.
COVID-19 Vaccination – can an employer make it compulsory for employees?
We review what legal issues to take into account when considering to make vaccination compulsory as an employer.
Linking ESG and Executive Pay
How does a business go about embedding a focus on strong ESG performance into the structures and culture of its organisation?
National Security and Investment Act granted Royal Assent
The Act establishes a new regime for the review of mergers, acquisitions and other transactions that could threaten national security.
Recent Trends In Firewall Legislation: BVI, Bermuda And Gibraltar
Charles Russell Speechlys advises Waverton on acquisition of Cornerstone Asset Management
Established in July 2010 and with offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Cornerstone offers wealth management and financial planning advice.
What do the new Debt Respite Scheme Regulations mean for Landlords and Tenants?
This will provide legal protection from creditors in the form of either a breathing space or a mental health crisis moratorium.
Charles Russell Speechlys promotes five to Partner
The promotions are effective 1 May 2021 and are accompanied by one Legal Director and 15 Senior Associate promotions.
Risk allocation in commercial leases: the High Court considers rent suspension, insurance and frustration arguments
Read our summary of the full judgement on the latest Covid arrears case.
Charles Russell Speechlys boosts private wealth offering with the hire of an international tax team
Robert Reymond will be joined at the firm by Leigh Nicoll, Emma Tyrrell and Oliver Cooper.
Proposed Takeover Code Amendments – Key Changes
The Consultation Paper has now been followed by a corresponding response paper which made certain modifications to the initial proposals.
Building Back Better: Future Gazing
What’s next for the hospitality industry post-pandemic?
Building Back Better: Re-examining your proposition
Why hospitality businesses should re-examine their proposition now
Building Back Better: Real Estate and Restructuring
How and why should hospitality businesses re-structure post pandemic?
Charles Russell Speechlys advises Fudco Partnership on sale to Exponent-backed Vibrant Foods
Fudco is a family-owned business selling South Asian ethnic foods in UK and Europe.
Charles Russell Speechlys advises Polar Technology on investment by BGF
Polar Technology Management Group is a holding company for engineering businesses operating at the leading edge of technology.
Electrical safety standards in the private rented sector from 1 April 2021
The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector will apply to existing specified tenancies from 1 April 2021.
Amelia Goodwin and Georgina O'Sullivan write for Pharmacy Business on managing employee performance
Why contractors should prioritise performance management of employees as a regular feature of their business strategy.