February 4th, 2020 | Steven Smith, Managing Director EMEA

How Brexit Could Impact Your Hiring Programme

How Brexit Could Impact Your Hiring Programme

The Brexit cloud of uncertainty continues to hang over the heads of many organisations and employees alike. With a new Conservative government driving Brexit forward, multiple possibilities are up in the air, however, it is anticipated that the finer details will be clarified before the conclusion of the transition period. A recent poll by Sterling in their webinar “Background Screening, Brexit and Best Practice Considerations for Employers”, revealed that only 5% of employers are comfortable with Brexit preparations. Here, we aim to address this by outlining some of the potential changes the HR function should look out for, and what can be done in practice.

It’s a Deal

Following the 31st January, and the ratification of the withdrawal agreement, the wheels are now set in motion for a phase colloquially known as the “transition period,” lasting until the 31st December 2020. During this time, European Economic Area (EEA)/Swiss Nationals retain the right to freedom of movement. This will be a decisive timeline for agreeing to key areas between the two parties, such as data sharing, security and law enforcement to name a few, but there’s plenty that employers can consider and prepare for now. For example, preparing those EEA/Swiss nationals that come to the UK before the end of the transition period, and advising them to submit an application under the EU settlement scheme. This can be completed online and should be done before the 30th June 2021. Under this scheme, those individuals who have resided in the UK for 5 years or more, can transition to a settled status; whereas a pre-settled status is a possibility for new arrivals. As an employer, further guidance, tools, and information to support EU citizens and their families can be found by visiting the  UK government’s toolkit and may prove a valuable resource.

A New Points-Based System?

Whilst the full details are yet to be released, we do know that EU employees will be required to hold some form of sponsored status to facilitate employment in the UK. Reassuringly, Government guidance suggests that there will be no change with regards to right to work for EU, EEA, Swiss citizens, and their families residing in the UK until the 31st December 2020. For citizens that wish to explore all possibilities, there are options available under the EU settlement scheme, and should they wish to move to the UK past 1st January 2021, they will need to apply for immigration status under the new system – the full details of which will be released early 2020.

It’s reported  that the government aims to coincide the end of the transition period with the implementation of an ‘Australian style’ points-based immigration system. This system seems likely, which brings with it further uncertainty – particularly for those employers that rely on a consistent flow of low skilled employees. On the 28th of January 2020, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) released their report covering this system , and a review of the salary thresholds for the future. Although, this is not set in stone, it may provide an early indication of what’s to come.   For example, recommendations suggest that the minimum salary requirements for the tier 2 (general) visa category should be reduced to approximately £25,600 for experienced workers. There may also be minimum salaries set for each specific job, as there are now. One possible course of action, that may put your organisation in good stead, includes reviewing the impact on your business and staff, and carrying out a workforce planning audit, that takes into account the skill levels and salary bandings of your employees. It’s also essential to keep your current workforce in the loop regarding all developments, by continually assessing and monitoring the situation.

Whilst the conclusion to Brexit looms large, it’s vital to consider all eventualities to future-proof your organisation. For a practical round-up of the key HR considerations to help guide you through Brexit (and the impact of the new government), catch-up with the Sterling team and guests from Fragomen LLP in our on-demand webinar!

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.