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UK Workers Voice Concern over Brexit

Posted: 9th May 2017

Guy Lougher, partner and Head of Brexit Advisory Team, Pinsent MasonsResearch finds 64% anticipate economic downturn, but 60% confident employers will adapt

UK workers are showing significant resilience in the face of Brexit uncertainty, according to research commissioned by international law firm Pinsent Masons.

According to the survey of workers in large businesses, conducted by Yugo on behalf of the firm:

• Almost two thirds of workers (64%) believe there is a realistic prospect of an economic downturn within the next three years as a result of Brexit.
• Around 1 in 3 workers (36%) felt it likely they could lose their job as a result, while 2 in 3 (65%) thought it likely people they knew could lose their jobs.
• While 37% thought it likely their employer will increase pay to offset inflationary impact over the next 12 months, the majority (57%) expected their real pay to fall this year even though economic growth is tipped to accelerate.
• Despite that, almost 60% of workers surveyed were confident that their employer is well-placed to react to economic difficulties arising from Brexit, compared to just 14% who did not feel confident.
Scottish workers surveyed were more pessimistic compared to their UK counterparts the survey revealed.

North of the Border 76% believe an economic downturn as a result of Brexit is likely or very likely, while 60% of Scots workers think it unlikely they will receive a pay rise within the next 12 months to offset the impact of inflation.

Scottish based workers shared the same view as Londoners in thinking there was a realistic possibility of losing their jobs if there was an economic downturn (41%) but those in the Midlands were more upbeat with only 30% taking that view.

Regardless of economic factors, the survey revealed UK workers seem determined to tough it out, with 92% of workers saying they were unlikely to leave the UK in the next 12 months as a result of Brexit.
EU citizens (15%) were less assured and appeared to be twice as likely relocate abroad as UK nationals (8%).

However, the likelihood of workers leaving the UK after 2-3 years was somewhat higher – suggesting that some workers may await the outcome of Brexit negotiations before making a final decision about relocation.

Guy Lougher, Head of the Brexit Advisory Team at Pinsent Masons, said: “On the whole the UK workforce is demonstrating resilience, anticipating a downturn but retaining a level of confidence in their employers.

“What is particularly interesting is that, those workers who felt their businesses were not open about the impact of Brexit on the business were more likely to be fearful about the prospects for the future. Of those who described employer communications around the referendum as poor, 1 in 10 said they would be likely to leave the UK within the next twelve months.

“Conversely, those who rated the communications of their business highly were notably more confident about the ability of the business to react to the challenges and opportunities afforded by Brexit.
“There is a clear message to UK Plc that they need to plan ahead for the business, despite the attendant difficulties in doing so, and communicate openly about those plans with their people to engage and retain talent.”

Since the Brexit referendum last June Pinsent Masons has worked with a former military intelligence analyst to help several blue-chip companies anticipate and plan for different scenarios during and after Brexit negotiations. The firm has also launched a corporate ‘crowd funded’ advisory platform called BASe, developed an AI-enabled contracts review system and launched a Public Policy unit to support businesses in engaging with government on Brexit issues.

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