Hiring non-UK workers after Brexit – The Immigration White Paper

One of our Cumbria network partners, RfM Accountants has recently launched their new HR Service, led by experienced HR professional Diane Johnson. This super service aims to advise family businesses on all aspects of their business HR matters, from finding the right people to keeping records, drafting handbooks and dealing with conduct issues.

In her first advisory column for The Family Business Network, Diane talks about the Immigration White Paper and what you need to know if you will be hiring non-UK workers after we leave the EU.

Diane says:

“The general election is fast approaching, and the main parties have been setting out their proposals for key issues such as health and education. It appears Brexit (please don’t shoot me for saying the ‘B’ word) is still a very hot topic and one that may be front of mind if your business hires workers from within the EU.

I know, I know…. we are all pulling our hair out about Brexit!  But, in my first column it would be remiss of me not to flag our imminent exit from the EU as one of THE most significant risk factors for businesses whose workers are mainly in the non-skilled category.

Right now, I am sure if you are a family business that employs EU Nationals you are already well on with supporting your staff as they apply for pre-settled status (less than 5 years in UK) or settled status (already been in the UK for more than 5 years).  If you are not being active here, please act as soon as you can.  It is a very straight-forward process, and the system is working really well, taking about 15 minutes to apply (if the applicant has all the required documentation to hand).

Restrictions on hiring non-UK workers after 1 January 2021

What I really want to draw your attention to is a date not so far away – 1st January 2021.  The landscape for Immigration changes radically from that point onwards.  In a recent survey, a staggering 58% of people had either no, or very low levels of awareness about the immigration restrictions that will result from us leaving the EU.

It is not just businesses who currently rely on EU workers who need to start contingency planning.  Changes to the Immigration system in the UK from 1st January 2021 will make the non-skilled labour market very competitive.   You will want to act now to ensure your business is best placed to retain your current employees, and to attract new employees in the future.

So, unless there is a second referendum and the people of the UK choose to reverse the decision to leave  – here is what you need to know about employing people from outside of the UK in the future.

Just like Brexit itself, the finer details are not yet set in stone; but the Immigration White Paper sets out the broad framework of the rules for employing anyone who is not of UK or Irish Nationality.

The current proposal is that for *Non-Skilled roles (think less than £30k per annum) applicants from outside of the UK and Ireland will only be able to apply for a 1-year work visa or under the **Youth Mobility Scheme to apply for a 2-year work visa.

The net result of these work restrictions is that non-skilled workers are going to be in much shorter supply than they are now; meaning that your business is going to have to work harder to attract workers to your business, or to retain the employees you already employ.

We also know that it is not all about the money.  Employees state that Flexible Working and Development Opportunities are the top two things they value from their employer.

It’s time to make a plan

So in short, businesses have just over a year to plan for these significant changes to labour market supply.   My top 2 tips to prepare for this are:

  • Get ahead of the game by creating a robust resourcing strategy
  • Find out what your employees want more of and less of to improve engagement and retention

If this column has raised any matters that you think are going to affect you and you would like to know more about how RfM HR Services can help you – please call Diane on 01772 431233 or email Diane for an initial consultation.

* It is possible that some roles and some nationalities may have more favourable treatment if there are skill shortages, or we have a trade agreement in place – but this is not clear at the moment.

** Youth Mobility Scheme is for people who want to live and work in the UK for up to 2 years, are aged 18 to 30, have £1,890 in savings, have certain types of Nationality and meet the other eligibility requirements  including having no children living with them or being financially dependant on them