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How Brexit is Affecting Companies with Offshore Workers

  • by: Rebecca Giuliani
  • On: 9, Feb 2021
5 min read

With 30,000 people working in offshore Oil & Gas jobs in the UK alone, Brexit is predicted to cause upheaval and challenges for the British and European Energy & Renewables sectors. From new ways of working with European partners and international suppliers, to sourcing niche skills, VHR’s technical recruitment specialists can help.


4 Ways Brexit Will Impact Offshore Industries


1. Greater Collaboration with European Authorities

The exact location of an individual contractor when working offshore may be difficult to determine under the law; an unprecedented problem for British and European companies, given the new imposition of borders and restrictions on freedom of movement. As a result, ensuring your workforce complies with the relevant legislation will prove more challenging than in previous years.

Communication with authorities across locations will prove paramount in clarifying exact rules and compliance requirements. HR departments can engage the local works councils and employee representative bodies in the EU country responsible for the relevant waters and proactively build company knowledge on the situation, the local ways of working and the best contact to work with. Establishing these relationships early on will help mitigate business risk, create a positive precedent to navigate the new rules together, and facilitate regular communications with your workforces across Europe.

2. Skills Shortages

Despite new changes to recruiting contractors and permanent workers, Brexit doesn’t necessarily mean an end to recruiting between the UK and EU. Skills shortages will be more pronounced in niche fields and those relying heavily on international workforces, such as the 1 in 4 British companies across that currently employ EU nationals, and the Energy and Renewables industry which requires highly qualified, experienced contractors.

Adapting hiring strategies to approach diverse, younger talent pools from other industries will prove the key to solving skills shortages after Brexit. 53% of the UK workforce is planning a major career change in 2021, with the top reasons behind this desire for change including financial stability following Covid-19 and an appetite to learn new skills or retrain completely – which the economically vital, fast-growing Energy sector can provide in abundance. Business leaders and hiring managers can respond to growing interest in career changes, by entering into new talent pools to both dispel negative and inaccurate perceptions of the industry from those on the outside, and driving awareness of the significant benefits available for those in offshore careers.

Losing access to European talent will be the catalyst for many companies to find new diverse talent in untapped candidate pools. Women represent a shockingly low 3% of the offshore workforce, meaning several thousands of skilled women across Britain have not yet been engaged by the sector and are a readily available talent pool.

Energy and Renewables leaders can solve their skills shortage and improve workforce planning by creating a positive employer brand through:

  • Inclusion training for all new starters
  • Incentives for referrals of diverse candidates
  • Accessing grants and support programmes for employers looking to hire diverse talent
  • Engaging professional women’s groups to understand perceptions of the industry and raise awareness of different career paths and their benefits.

3. Changes to Compliance and Employment Legislation

Work permits and additional certificates are likely to be required for most British and European contractors working internationally following Brexit. From January 1st, British nationals will no longer have the automatic right to live or work in the EU, meaning the immigration rules of the relevant European country must be applied.

UK contractors working offshore in European waters may enjoy exemptions from EU law:

  • UK citizens performing temporary or short-term contract assignments will not require a residence permit or entry visa unless they plan to stay for longer than 90 days.
  • If the worker will be living and working outside the 12-mile zone for the entirety of their placement, they will not be classified as being ‘in the EU’ and won’t need a work permit.
  • British offshore contractors may also be eligible for an exemption if they work on a registered vessel for international transport.

Whilst all UK citizens working in the EU were previously covered by the EU Posted Workers Directive, the UK’s departure from the European Union will mean the Directive no longer applies. New legislation brought in by the British Government could see changes to the following for British businesses employing British offshore workers: 

  • minimum rates of pay
  • maximum work periods
  • minimum rest periods
  • minimum paid annual leave
  • the conditions of outsourcing temporary workers through agencies
  • workplace health and safety.

Legal requirements for contractors and offshore workers are set to see confusion and further changes in the coming year – experienced consultants who specialise in compliant international contract recruitment can help.

4. Renewable Energy Legislation Updates

As Brexit sets the stage to refresh governance and ways of working across industries, new laws are expected to see major changes to the Energy and Renewables sector in the coming years. Leaving the EU means British Energy businesses are no longer required to adhere to the sustainability targets of the EU Renewable Energy Directive.

Rather than abandoning carbon emissions and sustainability progress, the UK Government is expected to place a larger focus on renewable electricity projects. Investment in the sector is projected to continually ramp up: the Carbon Budget Order 2016 will remain in place for the next 11 years to reduce emissions by 57% on 1990 levels. Industry experts predict that, as recently committed by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the new national Energy strategy champion a combination of offshore wind, gas-fired generation and nuclear power. The UK is the world leader in offshore wind, and its 40-year history in wind turbine manufacture ensures the British offshore sector is well-equipped to meet required renewable development and sustain its global place in Energy innovation.

How Energy Businesses Can Grow After Brexit

A trusted recruitment partner can make all the difference following major legislation changes.

VHR’s contract recruitment specialists have over 17 years’ experience recruiting, managing and supporting contractors across over 50 countries around the world. Our international team of recruitment consultants, 9 global offices and focus on ethical and legally compliant solutions positions us to best serve Energy and Renewables businesses looking to grow after Brexit.

Find out more about VHR’s award-winning technical staffing services.

Discover How to Recruit Internationally After Brexit.

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