Posted by Kate Benefer, Partner
Post-Brexit immigration: what changes are ahead?
The recent leak of the Home Office paper titled “Border, Immigration and Citizenship System after the UK Leaves the EU” highlights the Government’s plans to overhaul the UK immigration system post Brexit. It is clear that change is ahead with a strong focus towards ending the unconditional free movement of people. While the exact plans remain unclear, if you currently employ EU nationals, it is worth considering what steps you can take now to ensure your staff’s working rights in the UK.
What are the current proposed plans?
The exact rules which will be implemented are yet to be decided. However, the leaked document suggests the Government will follow a three-stage plan:
1. An Immigration Bill to be introduced before Brexit.
2. A transitional phase during which there will be a move to the new rules. It is suggested that this phase will last for at least two years
3. A final phase where the new rules and penalties will be strictly enforced.
Although the exact rules and penalties to be implemented remain unclear, the paper suggests the Government may try to impose some of, but not limited to, the following restrictions on EU immigration:
• restrict EU nationals’ ability to work in low skilled jobs (i.e. by introducing two year work permits). Work permits may also be introduced for high-skilled occupations for three to five years.
• introduce a minimum salary threshold for EU workers.
• restrict the right of EU nationals to bring certain family members to the UK.
• require employers to demonstrate that they are unable to recruit locally before offering roles to EU nationals; an idea which sounds very similar to the current resident labour market test which is used when recruiting skilled workers from outside of Europe.
What should employers do now?
The leaked document may have caused concern to EU workers, and employers should consider whether they need to offer any assurance to their current staff about their positions in the organisation. For some workers, it may be that steps can be taken pre-Brexit to secure their working rights in the UK. For example, some workers may be eligible to apply for permanent residence or British citizenship.
Employers who are heavily reliant on European workers may also wish to consider whether they need to start thinking about future recruitment to ensure they remain able to attract and retain the skills they need. This may mean raising awareness of the organisation in the UK so that resident workers are interested in future opportunities.
It is important that employers consider their business requirements and seek advice in respect of business immigration as early as possible.
Immigration: what every business needs to know
In November, our Business Immigration team is running seminars that will help HR practitioners, recruiters and business managers get to grips with the changing immigration laws. Please click on the below links to find out more and attend the seminar in a location most convenient for you:
For further advice in relation to the business immigration and steps you need to take now to comply with the immigration law, please contact Kate Benefer or another member of our Business Immigration team:
01865 792 300 Email us
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