Job losses likely as European Chemicals Agency closes the door to Brits in Finland

Up to ten UK nationals will lose their jobs at the Helsinki-based agency, as British people are no longer eligible for jobs.

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File picture showing European Chemicals Agency ECHA headquarters, Helsinki / Credit: Dobromir Doskacharov, ECHA

Up to ten British nationals could lose their jobs at the European Chemicals Agency ECHA in Helsinki as a direct result of Brexit.

After the UK formally left the European Union on 1st February, the Chemicals Agency updated its website to show the only people who can apply for jobs now are European Union and European Economic Area nationals.

“The UK [left the EU] on 1 February 2020. Hence, as of that date, the European Chemicals Agency can no longer hire UK nationals unless they have another EU or EEA nationality” the website says.

News Now Finland understands there are ten UK nationals among the ECHA’s 600 staff in Finland who will no longer be eligible to work there, and at the end of the year their future employment is decided on a case-by-case basis.

“The Executive Director can grant exceptions to the general rule that UK staff members would no longer be eligible to work at ECHA as of 1 January 2021 if there is an interest of the service to continue employing them” explains ECHA press officer Mikko Väänänen.

“Even if there is no such exception interest identified, the UK staff member would still continue to work for ECHA during his or her notice period, which depends on the years of service already spent at ECHA” Väänänen adds.

As the employees have different contract start and end dates, some of those staff could lose their jobs even during the Brexit transition period which runs until the end of 2020.

British nationals are not banned completely from working at the European Chemicals Agency after Brexit. While they can’t apply for full time jobs, they could still get temporary jobs via contractors, or as consultants – positions which could last up to five years.

At the start of the Brexit process there were around 20 ECHA staff who only had UK nationality, but over the last few years many of them were able to acquire a second EU passport to be able to continue working there.

File picture working with chemicals in laborator / Credit: Lauri Rotko, ECHA

What is the ECHA?

The European Chemicals Agency ensures the safe use of chemicals in the EU, and implements legislation for any company that works with chemicals.

It is responsible for the labeling and packaging of chemical substances not just for industrial use but for medical and household use as well – including products like disinfectant and insect repellents.

The Agency was established in Helsinki in 2007, and at the start of this year moved to new premises in the city’s Telakkaranta neighbourhood.

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