As Great Britain is going through great disarray and a fog of uncertainty has enveloped the country, we’re drilling down into the million-pound question that’s on every freelancer’s mind right now – what does Brexit mean for me?
There are currently more questions than answers, as the UK government scrambles for plausible way-outs. However, there’s one thing that we know for certain – the people of the UK have chosen to leave the EU.
This brings into question a range of aspects that concern freelancers – everything from getting paid as a freelancer to having your professional qualifications recognised in all other EU countries.
So let’s delve a little deeper.
The right to freely travel and work in any other EU-member country
It’s important to establish the fact that the UK is still a member of the EU and will probably remain so for at least 2 years. As it stands, all UK citizens have the right to work and travel in other European countries (that are members of the EU) without any visas or work permits. At the same time, citizens of other EU-member countries are entitled to the same right of the free movement of people.
It’s an ideal scenario for freelancers who often like to travel while on the job and enjoy other perks of working remotely.
Given the strong anti-immigration sentiments that tinged the Leave Campaign, it’s highly likely the UK will try to ditch the free movement agreement. In that case, the right to freely travel and work anywhere in the EU for UK citizens will be off the table too.
All EU countries have different immigration policies and rules for non-EU citizens who want to live and work there. For example, freelancers who are non-EU nationals hoping to settle down in France or Germany have to demonstrate how their business will benefit the country as well as prove that they’re able to fully finance their business by providing bank statements as hard evidence.
So although it suddenly becomes a considerably more complicated affair than connecting your laptop to a free wifi and cracking on with your projects, it will still be possible (just a less attractive option).
Getting paid as a freelancer after Brexit
Currently, all EU citizens benefit from being able to move capital freely without any extra charges. As one of the corner principles of the EU, it gives freelancers that great peace of mind of accepting payments seamlessly and securely. When the UK leaves the EU, this will likely get more complicated and more expensive if either the freelancer or the client is based outside the UK, as new extra costs will be introduced for paying money into a UK bank account.
Your professional qualifications after Brexit
The UK’s membership of the EU means that your professional qualifications are recognised in all EU-member countries. Being able to prove that you’re qualified for a job is extremely important in any field and though freelancers have the fall-back option of using their personal portfolio to establish trust, professional qualifications are still an important factor in winning new projects.
In the case of Brexit, UK might be excluded from this agreement.
The light in the tunnel
It sounds crazy, but Brexit may actually bring a lot of opportunities for UK freelancers. The global recession in 2008 was regarded as one of the key boosters of the freelance economy, as strapped-for-cash businesses searched for alternative ways to keep the projects running at minimal costs.
With the Brexit-induced economic recession on the way, UK businesses may once again turn to contractors and freelancers instead of taking on full-time or part-time employees. And as one’s loss becomes the other’s gain, the show must go on.
One thing we shouldn’t forget though is that technology and the Internet have already erased all borders.
PeoplePerHour is an embodiment of the global market that is knocking down traditional borders and bureaucratic barriers. Connecting businesses with professional freelancers from all over the world, it makes the Brexit fears seem somewhat irrelevant to the freelance economy.
As a freelancer, you’re still in full control of who you choose to work with and on what terms. In fact, the shrinking value of the pound against the euro and dollar represents a potential opportunity for UK-based freelancers to attract more international clients as their purchasing power increases.
Until the UK has secured an exit deal with the EU, we’re left in the dark about many complex issues, including the impact on freelancers and the freelance economy. Although there are many concerns that threaten our standard of living, such as tax rises and spending cuts, increasing prices of air travel and the diminishing purchasing power of the pound, freelancers (like lawyers) are expected to cash in from this unexpected turn of events.