Barclays is taking direct ownership of its French, German, and Spanish branches away from its UK company and putting them under control of Barclays Bank Ireland, Reuters reported on Monday. The move by the UK-based international bank to expand its Irish entity, which it announced last year would become its post-Brexit European headquarters, is part of its contingency plans for ensuring the smooth continuation of its European operations after Brexit.
Barclays plans to ultimately move all of its European branches under the aegis of the Irish bank. These include corporate and investment banking businesses in Luxembourg, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, and the Netherlands, according to Reuters. After absorbing these businesses, Barclays Bank Ireland will have total assets of around £224 billion (250 billion euros, or $286 billion), which the Irish Times reports would make it the largest bank in Ireland.
These entities will ultimately remain under the ownership of Barclays’ holding company in London, but will be directly owned by the Irish bank. This is meant to ensure that even in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit, in which the UK crashes out of the European Union with no special trade arrangements, Barclays will be able to continue serving EU customers without disruption as its businesses will still be based in a member state.
It is not clear what impact these moves will have in terms of jobs, though the Irish Times notes that the bank had already outlined plans to add up to 200 new employees in Ireland; overall, Brexit-related reorganizations at banks are expected to result in tens of thousands of jobs disappearing from the City of London.
An agreement reached before dawn on Friday in the first phase of Brexit talks between the UK and the European Union will preserve the rights of EU citizens currently living, working, and studying in the UK, as well as their British counterparts in Europe, Rob Moss reports at Personnel Today:
Theresa May said that EU citizens living in the UK would have their rights “enshrined in UK law and enforced by British courts”. But the agreement, published this morning, says the European Court of Justice will continue to have a role in overseeing their rights for eight years after Brexit – until March 2027. Guarantees will also apply to UK citizens living in other EU countries. …
There are around three million EU citizens living and working in the UK. The joint report states that the objective of the UK’s Brexit agreement is to provide “reciprocal protection for Union and UK citizens, to enable the effective exercise of rights derived from Union law and based on past life choices, where those citizens have exercised free movement rights” by the time of the UK’s withdrawal.
That EU citizens in the UK (and vice versa) would be granted the right to stay has been known since June, and many observers expected the Brexit agreement to include such a provision from the start. What remained uncertain was when these protections would be cut off: Originally, the government had proposed to limit eligibility for “settled” status to those living in the UK on the day the Brexit process was triggered (March 29, 2017), but May left open the possibility of changing it to the day Britain leaves the EU in 2019. Friday’s agreement appears to reflect the EU’s preference of the later date.
The Irish government’s Department of Jobs has drafted legislation that would strictly regulate the use of zero-hour contracts, in which employers are not obliged to guarantee employees any work in a given pay period, and has referred the legislation to the Attorney General for priority drafting, Patrick Walshe, an attorney with Philip Lee in Dublin, wrote at SHRM last week. While the proposed legislation has not yet been published, Walshe points to several changes it is likely to make:
- Employers would be obliged to provide certain information to new employees, including the expected contract duration, the manner in which pay will be calculated and what the employer reasonably expects the normal extent of the working day/week to be. It would be an offense if the employer fails to comply. Obviously, the requirement to provide information in relation to the normal extent of the work is to give an employee key information early on.
- The legislation would propose a new minimum floor payment of three times the national minimum wage when an employee is called into work but is not actually provided with the hours expected. This is clearly designed to discourage employers from summoning employees to work for short periods.
- Perhaps most fundamental of all, the legislation would create a new cause of action where employees could argue that their actual hours worked are not accurately reflected in their contracted hours. If there is a difference between what the contract says and what happens in practice, the employee could seek to be placed in a band of hours that is closer to the hours they actually worked.
The intention of the legislation, Walshe speculates, may be to eliminate zero-hour contracts entirely, or with very few exceptions.
While Brexit will have a variety of effects on different industries, the impact on the tech sector in particular is getting a lot of attention. The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union stands to affect the tech world in three possible ways, as Hayley Tsukayama explains in the Washington Post: by limiting Britain’s ability to hire foreign tech talent, by inhibiting the flow of capital into British tech startups from continental sources like the European Investment Fund, and, by complicating the future of data regulations, in which the EU has been the world’s most significant actor:
The U.S. and the E.U. are in the process of making the final adjustments to their latest data privacy agreement, which governs the flow of data between U.S. and Europe. With a major player in the E.U. now backing out of the coalition, there are obviously some questions about what happens to data flowing in and out of Britain from the U.S. and elsewhere.
Despite the referendum results, however, things in this area will remain with the status quo — for now. “The Data Protection Act remains the law of the land irrespective of the referendum result,” confirmed the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office, but added that the Brexit does mean that the U.K. will not be subject to upcoming reforms the E.U. is planning to make around data protection.
However, Britain is unlikely to deviate from the policies of the E.U. in this particular area, simply because E.U. standards have become basically standard around the world. Should Britain shy away from those regulations, experts said, it would face dire consequences.
Indeed, Cambridge security engineering professor Ross Anderson writes at Computer Weekly, “rules and standards set in Brussels [will] have huge and continuing influence on the UK IT industry.” Regardless of the final outcome of negotiations between the UK and the EU over their post-Brexit relationship, Anderson predicts that having to follow EU regulations while not actually being a part of the EU will make it more expensive for tech startups to operate in the UK: