• 24% of companies surveyed by business group plan hiring freeze
  • Many U.K. employers are feeling anxious after referendum

Some British companies are planning to freeze recruitment and are considering moving operations outside the U.K. following Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, according to a survey by a business group.

An Institute of Directors poll of 1,092 U.K. business leaders found 24 percent of respondents plan to pause hiring plans, while 5 percent of companies surveyed said they will cut jobs. Sixty-four percent of respondents said the result is negative for business, compared with 23 percent who said it is positive.

“We can’t sugar-coat this. Many of our members are feeling anxious,” Simon Walker, director-general of the institute, said by e-mail. “A majority of business leaders think the vote for Brexit is bad for them.”

Dismay among business leaders over last week’s vote extended beyond the U.K. The result of the referendum on Britain’s EU membership has also prompted political uncertainty and a sell-off of the pound.

Among companies surveyed by the institute, 22 percent said they are considering moving some of their operations outside the U.K. Almost three-quarters of respondents said their top priority is for policy makers to protect the British economy from the turmoil in financial markets.

The survey was begun Friday, the day after the referendum, and released Monday.

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