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By : Chris Howitt

The decision to leave the European Union is a significant departure and will mark a milestone for the UK. However as plans to leave the EU draw closer the extent of the changes and implications remain unclear, leaving a climate of uncertainty, especially for SMEs.

Here are three key areas for SMEs to consider when planning for Brexit:

Review you workforce

Changes to employment regulations following Brexit is one of the biggest concerns for businesses, however they are expected, and it is important businesses review their workforce and the potential impact of the uncertain futures of their EU workers. As we prepare to leave an open-boarded employment market there is a chance that many EU workers may be forced to return home leaving UK businesses struggling to find the expertise and skilled labour they require.

As part of your review, identify which of your employees may be affected by any new immigration laws and evaluate which of these workers would be eligible to apply for settled status. Also analyse the possibility of using technology and digital tools to communicate and work with overseas employees.

Review and protect your business contracts

Do you have contracts with distributors, agencies and suppliers which include EU wide operations? If so, it is extremely important to consider whether any future Brexit changes will affect the operation of the contracts – the last thing you want is for this to negatively affect the performance and output of your business. Check whether your contracts allow you to terminate or at least re-negotiate if trading becomes difficult and restrictive.

For example, a current EU law allows the freedom of movement of goods without duties between EU member states, however it is expected that tax, duties and other charges will be introduced post-Brexit. What does this mean? It means the import and export of goods could be less attractive and economically viable. The introduction of other new regulations on importing and exporting could also mean delays in the movement of goods in and out of the UK, limiting stock supplies and the need for businesses to raise costs.

To counter these implications, SME’s should begin to consider the trade deals currently in place with non-EU member countries such as Canada, USA, China and India, to potentially open up new markets.

Is your Intellectual property valid?

If you own any patents or copyrights you need to evaluate whether these will be valid going forward post Brexit. If you have EU specific registered trademarks, consider registering these separately in the UK to ensure protection is ongoing. Losing protection could be detrimental for your business so avoid the risk and re-register any IP’s in the UK.


It is important to evaluate your business, devise a strategy, get a plan in place and be clear on what you need to focus on in order to see your business through the Brexit challenges and continue to help your business grow and succeed.

If you have any questions on how to plan for Brexit and the impact on your business contact one of the Hentons team members through our contact form, or contact me directly at chris@hentons.com

Register for our Autumn Budget Seminar on 30 October for highlights from the Budget Announcement.

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