Brexit – Leaked immigration plans could be catastrophic for employers

Last week’s leaked memo on the Government’s immigration plans after the UK’s departure from the EU has caused significant concern for employers.

The Guardian newspaper revealed the memo which sets out detailed proposals including measures to drive down the number of low skilled migrants from Europe. These include narrowing the rights of family members to come to the UK and other suggestions for immigration control, such as:

  • Ensuring that preference in the job market is given to resident workers through a test that employers must complete to check whether suitable recruits can be found locally before hiring an EU citizen
  • Requiring EU citizens who wish to move to the UK to already have a job offer
  • Numerical caps on numbers
  • Limiting permits for those in highly skilled occupations to 5 years and 2 years for those in other occupations
  • Requiring EU citizens to comply with mandatory registration requirements

The Government has played down the report and stated that it is a draft that has not yet been signed off. However, many businesses, who are heavily reliant on EU workers believe that it shows a deep lack of understanding of the vital contribution that EU migrant workers make at all skill levels.

Industries such as the Leisure and Hospitality Industry are likely to be particularly impacted, with 75% of  all waiters and 25% of chefs coming from the EU. The British Hospitality Association have commissioned a report by KPMG on the impact of Brexit on the industry which has found that hospitality firms need at least 60,000 new EU workers to fill vacancies.

Some commentators have suggested that even if the industry recruited every person on the unemployment register there would not be enough people to fill the roles needed and businesses are already feeling the effect of the Brexit vote with less people choosing to come to Britain to work.

What can businesses do to prepare for Brexit?

Businesses should have already assessed and audited their workforce to identify any sectors which might be disproportionately affected. If there are areas in which high numbers of EU workers are employed, you should ascertain how long they have been in the UK? Can they apply for permanent residence to protect their position? Many businesses are engaging Boyes Turner Immigration team to hold Brexit Surgeries and reassure, answer questions and advise EU workers on their options and permanent residence applications.

Plan for the future

We do not yet know what the future might hold but the Government’s memo suggests something akin to the current system for employing non EU workers. This involves businesses registering as Licensed Sponsors to employ skilled migrants and satisfying a Resident Labour Market Test to show that the role cannot be filled from within the UK.
For those businesses who are already registered as Licensed Sponsors, it is crucial that you are fully aware of and adhere to your sponsorship obligations and the new rules that came into force earlier this year. For those organisations that are not already registered, ensure that you are up to date and compliant with the latest illegal working policies, as any non – compliance will have an impact on your ability to register as a Sponsor in the future.

Find out more

We will be discussing Brexit, sponsorship obligations, the latest rules on illegal working, changes to the Sponsorship System and everything an employer needs to know about immigration at our Global Recruitment Masterclass on 5 October 2017.. register here.

Boyes Turner‘s Immigration team can assist with Brexit surgeries. For further advice and assistance please contact Claire Taylor-Evans or Laurence Anstis of Boyes Turner’s Business Immigration team on ctaylor-evans@boyesturner.com or lanstis@boyesturner.com.

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