Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Brexit Support for Open University Staff who are EU Nationals

The Open University's HR director sent the following message to all staff this morning.

Since the publication of the Brexit White Paper (which outlines the UK’s five key objectives once the UK leaves the European Union on 29 March 2019) my team and I have been giving considerable thought as to what we, the University, can do to support any colleagues who may be affected by changes to the UKs migration policies after this date.
We are in the privileged situation at the OU where we have a diverse range of staff working here, who have made, and who continue to make, an enormous contribution to the University across a range of roles and disciplines. We recognise that the diversity of our colleagues is one of our greatest assets so, despite the current uncertainty that Brexit has brought to many of our colleagues we want to encourage and support anyone who is an EU national to stay working with the OU, regardless of their role or length of service.
In order to do this we will:
  • Wherever possible, support our employees who are either directly or indirectly affected by these policy changes to stay in the UK and stay working with the OU
  • Support affected colleagues through any process they may need to participate in, in order for them to stay living and working within the UK, and provide them with any documentation or other resources to assist with this
We have engaged with the OU International Community Support Network  to understand the issues and what support is likely to be needed to ensure the delivery of this commitment and will be able to provide more information once we have the detail of this.
As a priority, we will start by looking at very practical support such as:
  • The provision of legal briefing sessions so staff can understand the implications for them and their families (both face to face and online for those who can’t attend in person)
  • We are looking at how we can assist employees with financial support for application fees for the EU Settlement Scheme and reviewing existing processes for those applying for British Citizenship.
  • A direct line to HR support to speed up the issuing of any required information. This can be accessed by emailing: staff-brexit-enquiries@open.ac.uk
  • A central shared area where all documents and communications can be accessed easily for reference
  • The creation of a bank of useful resources for international staff (including reference letters and practical support)
I understand that this is an incredibly unsettling time for anyone who could be affected by the UK’s decision to leave the EU and I know that we have colleagues who are worried and anxious about their futures in the UK. Whilst I can’t alleviate this with one message, I want to reassure anyone impacted by Brexit that the OU is totally committed to the principles I have outlined above and as an organisation will do all that we can to support you and your family members and/or dependants over the forthcoming months.  
Additional support can be accessed through the OU International Community Support Network. This is a self-organised staff diversity network which is open to everyone (regardless of nationality) which has been set up to support staff and students who are affected by the results of the EU Referendum. Support and advice can also be accessed through the Employee Assistance Programme. This is a free and confidential service, available to all OU employees and their immediate family members. It offers expert advice, information, counselling and support and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You can also access the government website for the latest information.
We have committed to keep you updated and there will be a series of further communications leading up to March to ensure you are informed and supported. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns please contact: staff-brexit-enquiries@open.ac.uk

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