Living Articles

Honest Work: Has Brexit changed your working life?

We asked our anonymous panel of working women if recent events have affected their jobs. Here are their answers.

The Diplomat

I work on global issues. I currently live and work in London

"Where to begin? The shock at the result and the realisation that it would affect not just my job but my career in many more ways than I had imagined. When you work for a global organisation where success is determined by trust and the ability to work with others, mostly European partners; Brexit has been a massive shock to the entire system and an end to the status quo.

Over the last couple of weeks, events have been fast moving and changes have been equally swift, including a change of leadership. Despite soothing words of business as usual, at least until negotiations with the EU begin, it is obvious European partners view the UK differently. We are no longer in the club,  nor in the business of working together to achieve common EU goals. It has been distressing to see the drastic drop in confidence in the UK which has made it much harder to achieve objectives.

In real terms, the falling pound means my salary is now worth much less. For someone who expects to spend two thirds of my career working overseas and is paid in sterling, the weak pound is very worrying.

Brexit details are still emerging and it will take years, maybe decades to really understand how it will affect the UK and businesses, however one thing is for certain for my job and organization. We will be living in 'interesting' times for a very long time."

The Comedian

I am a professional comedian/writer. Like most artists, my chosen career path is not financially stable enough to support me, so I work full-time as a corporate receptionist.

"The office where I work reception is a long-standing British family company which has managed to weather all sorts of economic ups and downs pretty steadily. That said, about 70% of our office are immigrants - myself included. Some are from the EU, most are from elsewhere, but while our jobs feel secure now, there was definitely a heavy feeling in the office the week after the referendum.

As for my comedy work, our actual employment may not be affected by Brexit, but there has been a shift in tone and content for many comedians. Many comics had already been getting more political. I don't know if it's our age or the way the world is tilting. There's definitely been a surge in Brexit-related material in the last month.

I'm of the belief that it is our job as comedians to hold up a mirror of truth to society and dissect its problems, hashing it out with humour to help open our eyes to the problems of the world and start discussions on how to make it better. That's a serious view on an art form that is unfairly considered frivolous and silly. And yes, some comedy is the opposite - an antidote to help us escape the our troubles. But when something like Brexit happens that shifts the political and cultural conversation on a global level, it becomes impossible to ignore. I did a gig that week following the vote, and all of our material was about that. It was on the minds of everyone in the room, audience and performer alike, and we could feel a palpable need to commiserate and laugh together."

The Religious Institution Manager

I am a charity executive director. I live in London and am married with two grown up children

"My French colleague was the butt of three unfunny comments ('jokes') in the first week ( including from the boss at a management meeting) referring to the fact that he would have to leave due to Brexit and that he would be replaced. Then my colleague told me that his teenage daughters had been told to "go back to your own country" when someone heard them speaking in French on the bus. I work for a faith charity ( for crissake) which states that it welcomes everyone and so what is it like in other organisations?"

The Former Shelf Stacker

I worked for a major supermarket in the Midlands and am also studying accountancy.

As far as I can tell, my job hasn't been affected by Brexit as I am sure the decision to make our team redundant was made long before the referendum. However, my accountancy studies will surely be affected. On the morning of the Brexit result, I was sitting an exam on VAT regulations between EU members. I am certain that a lot of my learning involving EU laws and standards will now change and result in further exams needing to be passed. Sitting that exam on that very day felt futile to me, but still a necessary part of my qualification.

The Technical Advisor

I work for the local government, in the environmental protection department. I live in Birmingham.

“Let me start with half-bitter, half-ironic laughter. I just earned a big promotion. I start next week and will be working on implementing an important EU directive. EU directive! What will be the relevance of my job in a country that is about to exit the EU? I have no idea. It will have implications, that's for sure. I may lose my job or I may end up advising on drafting an equivalent piece of legislation. No one really knows what is going to happen.

It's even more uncertain on a personal level. As an EU national, I woke up on Friday 24 June and felt I'm no longer welcome here. All the xenophobic and racist incidents that were reported all over the country were beyond upsetting. One month on, I still haven't worked out my options. It feels like my life is in limbo now, pending important decisions that I have no influence over. Not a great place to be...”

The First Jobber

I graduated in 2014 and joined the Civil Service. Then I moved to Brussels for a secondment.

“Tempting though it is to rant and rage and blame Brexiteers for ruining my career, the honest answer is that it is too early to say.

There are currently too many uncertainties about what will happen once Article 50 is triggered to predict what the future will mean for Brits like me who work in the European Institutions. I’m luckier than most in that I’m only working in Brussels on a short term placement; my heart goes out to those British colleagues who have settled their families here, and who now are wondering if their jobs will be cut and their lives uprooted as a result.

That said, I will have to rethink my career plans. I’ve wanted to work for the EU for a long time, and now it looks like this possibility will be denied me. There will, no doubt, still be a need for civil servants to liaise with the EU, but we’ll be outsiders, rather than part of the Brussels' community. For now though, all I can do is wait and see, like everyone else.”

The Textile Designer

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