Home / Insights / Blog / Government Clarifies EU Workers’ Status Post-Brexit

Government Clarifies EU Workers’ Status Post-Brexit

Government Clarifies EU Workers’ Status Post-Brexit

EU Workers in the UK After Brexit

The Cabinet has voted to back a scheme for post-Brexit immigration that will see workers from the EU subject to the same rules as those from other foreign countries, with special allowances for low-skilled workers in some sectors.

Government ministers unanimously assented to the proposal put forward by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, following recommendations from the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

Professor Alan Manning, chairman of the MAC independent advisory body, recommended that EU workers be subject to the same visa rules as other migrants at a meeting with government officials in late September. In addition, Professor Manning urged the government to abolish an existing annual limit on the number of highly skilled, non-EU workers granted permission to work in Britain, once the nation leaves the EU.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister stated that a new system will come into force “once free movement is brought to an end” and will “work in the best interests of the UK including by helping to boost productivity.”

Insiders to the talks add that special allowances for the migration of low-skilled EU labourers are being considered by the government to support British industries which currently rely on vastly EU workforces.

Exceptions considered for low-skilled workers in some sectors

If introduced, such allowances for low-skilled EU workers in certain sectors would help to lessen the impact of Brexit on employers in areas such as construction and commercial real estate.

A move to subject EU workers to the same restrictions as other foreign workers would mean that workers would need to apply for a visa, ranging from Tier 1 (investors and “exceptional talent”), to Tier 2 (skilled worker), Tier 3 (unskilled worker) and Tier 4 (student).

At present, no Tier 3 visas for unskilled workers are being granted – a policy to which the government appears prepared to make an exception, in the interest of UK employers with largely EU staff.

Real estate industry leaders including the chief executive of the Shaftesbury Group property investment fund –which represents 600 businesses in London’s West End – have expressed concern that changing immigration rules for EU workers could deter a large part of the EU workforce from the retail sector.

Shaftesbury CEO Brian Bickell adds that EU workers are already being dissuaded from the UK by a combination of tightening visa restrictions and newfound uncertainty surrounding EU migration rules, stating:

“At the moment there is also lot of uncertainty over whether European staff can stay, which is causing big problems for our retailers.”

Employers prefer EU workers to UK natives

New research published by the Migration Advisory Committee underlines that UK employers are reluctant to recruit more British staff to replace EU workers once Britain leaves the EU.

The review of UK employers, commissioned by former Home Secretary Amber Rudd, surveyed 400 businesses, industry bodies, government departments and other organisations. Its feedback reveals that many employers in Britain feel that migrants from the European Economic Area are more reliable than UK workers and more willing to work long or anti-social hours.

This is supported by statistics, which show absenteeism rates in low-skilled jobs to be 40% higher amongst British workers than those from EU countries including Bulgaria, Romania and Poland.

The Home Office has affirmed that the feedback and evidence gleaned in the independent study will be considered in the ongoing development of a new migration system for Britain after Brexit. Meanwhile, another report from leading academics has underlined the prevalence of low-skilled EU workers in the British workforce.

The University of Oxford’s Migration Observatory estimates that EU workers currently account for 132,000 cleaning jobs, 120,000 basic hospitality jobs, 96,000 warehouse roles, 91,000 factory plant positions and 26,000 construction jobs in the UK

Contact our employment law experts today

Find out how we can support your employment law requirements throughout out Brexit and protect your business and your reputation as a fair employer by calling us on 03456 381381. Alternatively email your details to employment@ibblaw.co.uk.

You may also be interested in

Tier 1 Entrepreneur: Establishing a Business in the UK