We’re all sick of Brexit but we don’t yet know whether there is a deal to be done, a no deal or even a reversal of article 50. However, many of us recruit and engage with EU nationals on a regular basis. So how is Brexit going to impact the recruitment sector?
EU Nationals Already In the UK Before We Leave the EU…
These workers will be entitled to ‘settled status’. In essence, this means they can continue to live and work in the UK.
Those who has already been in the UK for 5 years (without a gap longer than 6 months) can gain settled status immediately. Those workers who have not yet been in the UK for 5 years can gain pre-settled status. They will still have the right to stay and work in the UK and after 5 years they must apply for settled status. If an individual has more than 6 months absence in a 12-month period they will lose their pre-settled status.
Who Will Be Allowed Settled Status?
EU / EEA / Swiss citizens and (if we leave with a deal at least) those in a relationship (spouse / civil partner / unmarried) with an EU / EEA / Swiss citizen.
The settled status scheme opened fully on 30th March 2019 meaning applicants can apply now. The deadline for applications is currently expected to be 30th June 2021 if we leave the EU with a deal or 31st December 2020 if we leave without.
Workers who don’t apply for settled status will not have the right to work in the UK.
EU Nationals Arriving In the UK After We Leave the EU…
Free movement will end. From 1st January 2021 if we leave with a deal or immediately if we leave with a no deal. Although if we leave with a no deal EU nationals will be given temporary right to remain with the idea of a new immigration policy to be implemented from January 2021.
Currently we’re not sure of the immigration policy (we’re still waiting for a white paper to be finalised). Potentially there will be liable to a similar points-based visa structure in place for non-EU nationals wanting to come and work in the UK. The suggested focus is on workers skills rather than the country they are coming from. There are concerns around using a similar system;
- Employers must be registered as a sponsor – this may make it more difficult and expensive for smaller businesses not used to this regime.
- The process is lengthy – making it difficult for Employers to quickly employ foreign nationals. It currently takes 8 weeks through online applications (although a 10-day priority application can be made for a higher fee). It has been suggested that all applications will be processed within 2-3 weeks after Brexit.
- Restrictions on salary could make it difficult for industries that have traditionally relied on EU nationals for low paid work for example agricultural workers. The current minimum salary for Tier 2 applications is £30,000 per annum and is proposed to be used post Brexit (the average salary in the UK was £29,588 last year).
- The visa is not transferable between Employers making it less attractive for foreign nationals wanting to come to work permanently in the UK.
- Recruitment businesses cannot apply for visa’s for temporary workers causing major concern for skill shortages for providers of agencies workers.
How To Combat The Risks;
Although it’s the individual’s responsibility to gain settled status it is clearly advisable for employers and recruiters to communicate the changes to their workers.
Be careful not to give immigration advice. This is unlawful. Consider using the Home Office toolkit for employers to help you stay compliant. LINK – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-employer-toolkit
Be careful not to fall foul of discrimination rules.
The Equality Act 2010 prohibits employment service providers from discriminating against a person in the arrangements they made for selecting who to provide their services to. Therefore, recruiters (and employers) must consider all applications who meet the criteria of their job vacancy regardless of the changes (or pending changes) to EU national’s immigration status. Any recruiter / employer not following this guidance could face a discrimination claim for which compensation is uncapped (eek).
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