Insights

Employers’ Brexit Q&A

Written by Jerry Conlan
21/12/2018

The UK Government has just announced the details of its proposed immigration system after Brexit. This Q&A aims to address employers’ concerns about their workforce and what, if anything, they need to do.

I have a number of EU national employees, do I need to make any changes?

No. After Brexit EU nationals will be entitled to continue to live and work in the UK. EU workers will, however, be required to register with the Home Office. They will be given settled status if they have lived here for more than five years or pre-settled status if not. It is the intention that all EU nationals should have registered before 30 June 2021.

Will I be able to employ EU nationals after Brexit?

EU nationals will still be able to freely travel to the UK until 31 December 2020. Until that date you will be able to offer jobs to EU nationals, subject to verifying their identity and nationality. Those workers will be required to register with the Home Office and you will be allowed to offer them permanent employment.

What happens after 31 December 2020?

Both EU and non-EU nationals will be subject to the same immigration requirements. If a company wishes to offer a role to a worker from overseas they will need to obtain a sponsor licence and meet the requirements for Tier 2 Sponsorship.

And what if there is no deal?

The “no deal” scenario should not affect these proposals.

What are my obligations as an employer?

As an employer you can be prosecuted if found to be employing workers illegally. In order to prevent this you should ensure you have seen all employees’ passports and keep a signed and dated copy on their file. For EU workers we suggest you ask them to show you evidence of their registration prior to 30 June 2021.

What is Tier 2 Sponsorship?

It’s the Government’s name for a work permit. Under the proposals of 19 December 2018 a Tier 2 visa will only be issued where a job is at a minimum skill level and is paid a minimum appropriate salary. There will be limited exceptions to these rules where, for example, the role is recognised as an occupation where there is a skills shortage or where the candidate has studied in the UK. The employer must hold a licence from the UK Home Office.

What are the changes to the visa rules?

Under the proposed new system:

  • an employer will not need to advertise a vacancy
  • there will no longer be a limit on the number of visas issued
  • the skills threshold will reduce to to RQF level 3, as opposed to the current graduate level, which significantly increases the range of jobs that will qualify
  • it should be simpler and quicker for companies to apply to sponsor a worker
  • it will be easier for students to get work visas once their UK studies have finished
  • the minimum salary threshold of £30,000 may also be lowered but the Government is still consulting on this

But what if the jobs in my business aren’t as skilled as that?

For the first few years after Brexit there will be a visa for low skilled jobs. Sponsorship will not be required, the visa will be limited to 12 months and will only be available to migrants from “low risk” countries. This provision is intended to be reviewed by 2025 but no date has been set as to when it will end. A visa scheme for agricultural workers has also been proposed.

This could have a serious impact on my business, what should I do?

You could consider writing a letter to your local MP. You should also contact employer organisations within your industry, as it is likely that they will be making co-ordinated representations to the Government.

When will these changes be introduced?

It is unlikely that there will be any changes before 2020.

Can I still send my employees to Europe?

After Brexit there will be no automatic right for British people to live and work in an EU country. The EU has stated that anyone already based in an EU state should be granted a residence permit but it is likely that any worker moving after Brexit will be subject to the work visa rules of the host country.

And what about a short business trip or holiday to Europe?

Visitors will need to complete a visa waiver form and pay a £6 fee. They must have at least 6 months’ validity remaining on their passport.

So, what do we think about these changes?

This is a curate’s egg. On one hand the work visa system will be more transparent, responsive and simpler to negotiate. On the other there are a number of industry sectors, such as healthcare, hospitality and construction, which will find it extremely difficult to attract workers without offering significantly higher wages, with low margins making that option unsustainable. Critically, it is not clear to what extent the so-called “transitional” arrangements will address employers’ concerns in these industries.

Our experienced Immigration Team will continue to advise clients who may be affected by changes to the immigration system after Brexit. We offer competitive fixed rates from the beginning for your peace of mind. Please contact Jerry Conlan, Immigration Director, for further details.

This note is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It should not be construed as professional advice as to any particular situation or constitute a legal opinion with respect to compliance with legal statutes or statutory instruments. Gordon Dadds LLP accepts no responsibility for its contents and reliance on the contents is prohibited and at the user’s risk. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking independent legal advice.

Contact the Author

Jerry Conlan

Gordon Dadds