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How will Brexit affect employment now and in the future?

How will Brexit affect employment now and in the future?

It is not now clear if the UK will leave the European Union on 31st October 2019 or what will follow thereafter. This is an uncertain time for us all, including employers in UK, their EU National employees and those seeking employment in the UK; as demonstrated by the fact that migration has dropped to its lowest in a decade. The care sector in which Clover HR has many clients, has been particularly affected as concerns about future recruitment prospects and shortage of applications are evident. The declining number of skilled workers arriving from Europe means that talent is being attracted from further afield which, whilst far from bad news, can be more costly for employers.

The workforce is the most vital element of any organisation. Companies in the UK have benefited greatly from employing EU nationals and the additional skills and qualities that they bring. More than 2 million EU citizens are currently working in the UK (Office for National Statistics 2019). These workers are likely be concerned about their future in the UK and they might decide to return home or relocate in advance of Brexit owing to the on-going uncertainty.  

This could clearly impact on a company’s ability to deliver on its commitments and budget with the consequent impact on revenues and profits.

Brexit can also represent an opportunity, however unwelcome for employers, to re-examine their recruitment, talent and development strategies and undertake some renewed workforce planning.

Today what really matters is how employers will recruit enough employees to secure their future given the likely restrictions to be placed on visas after the two year transition period finishes in 2021. Concrete proposals, given the current situation, on future migration requirements may take some time to emerge. In the meantime, consider the following questions.

How will EU citizen status change?

European nationals living in the UK are able to apply for settled or pre-settled status. A transition period will run until 31st December 2020; this date might change. During this period, EU nationals can freely come to the UK and work but would have to register their presence and apply for settled status or pre-settled status if they wished to remain after the transition period.

EU Settlement Scheme – what is it and who will qualify?

People who qualify for EU Settlement Scheme are EU citizens and their families who have been living in the UK for at least five years by the end of 2020 (again potentially subject to change). They will be able to apply for “settled status” which will give them the right to remain and work in the UK indefinitely. Those who have been in the UK for less than five years can apply once they reach the qualifying residence milestone.

Applications must be submitted by 30 June 2021 when the scheme is due to close. If there is a no-deal Brexit, applicants will have to be resident in the UK before it leaves; the deadline for applying is currently 31st December 2020.

Will EU worker safety standards no longer apply?

Our UK health and safety standards will not change because of Brexit.

The Health and Safety Executive states that The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 ensures that, whatever the outcome of Brexit, we can provide certainty on health and safety for duty holders across the UK.

So, in practice, employer’s duties to protect the health and safety of people affected by their work will not change with Brexit.

What can employers do?

Employers could identify and inform any EU citizens in their employment of the EU Settlement Scheme process. They can update their EU employees with all the relevant information concerning Brexit.  The labour market is continuing to tighten so employers should not need Brexit to require them to consider how they recruit and retain their staff, either from the EU or further afield.

It is important that employers monitor and keep up to date with the pre-settled or settled status applications milestones in this evolving environment. The best way is to regularly check the information on the GOV.UK Get ready for Brexit.

EU employees form a valuable part of the UK’s workforce. Manoeuvring through the unpredictability of Brexit is a demanding challenge for all UK businesses as they attempt to retain this essential resource.

If you need any further advice please contact Clover HR on 0121 516 0299 or email us at info@cloverhr.co.uk

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