Due to the impact of Brexit, immigration law in the UK is set to substantially change. Facing this prospect, which key areas should employers be aware of, asks Philip McNally from KPMG Legal Services?
Navigating the ongoing Brexit negotiations is a challenge, particularly for employers. Much is reliant on the make-up of any final deal but, armed with the right knowledge, there are some actions which both employers and employees can take now to make sure your business is prepared.
The most frequently asked question we encounter in KPMG’s immigration practice relates to the rights of Irish employees to work in the UK, and British employees to work in the Republic of Ireland. Due to the impact of the Common Travel Area and associated rights and privileges, Irish citizens are not considered to be ‘foreign nationals’ in the UK, and British nationals are not considered to be ‘foreign’ in the Republic of Ireland.
As a result, the right of Irish citizens to work in the UK, and of British nationals to work in the Republic, will not be impacted by Brexit.
If there is a transition period, employers will be able to recruit EU26 nationals (EU citizens who are not Irish), just as they do now, until December 31 2020. If there is no deal, it is unclear when “free movement of people” will end. However, it could end as early as March 29, 2019.
Under the EU Settlement Scheme, every EU26 national in the UK must make an application. The application will cost £65 for each adult, and is due to open in March 2019. This scheme is set to come into force whether or not a deal is concluded between the EU and UK.
In order to frame your immigration Brexit planning, we suggest that you conduct an initial audit of your workforce to gauge your exposure to Brexit. You should identify how many EU26 employees you have, their role and the location that they work in. Thereafter you can assess what you need to do to encourage and assist such employees to retain their right to work in the UK.
Once you know your immigration exposure, you can plan your response.
If you have a low percentage of EU26 Nationals working in your organisation, it may be sufficient to supply those workers with information about the EU Settlement Scheme, and hope that they make the application.
However, if you employ a high percentage of EU26 workers, we advise that you intervene and assist or get assistance for these workers to make the mandatory applications.
Under the proposed post-Brexit immigration system (set to come into force from January 1, 2021), employers will face a number of challenges. These potentially include a minimum salary requirement of £30,000 and the necessity for a work visa for EU26 nationals.
As such, those employers who rely on low paid EU26 employees, are at risk of not only losing their EU26 workers but will struggle to recruit after 2020 due to the post Brexit restrictions.
Bearing that in mind, if your organisation is affected in this manner, we advise that you retain your existing workforce by assisting them through the EU Settlement Scheme.
This article originally appeared in the January edition of Ulster Business Magazine and is reproduced here with their kind permission.
KPMG’s Corporate Immigration team is assisting employers and their workers in assessing their immigration status and supporting the relevant applications to minimise the effect of Brexit on the workforce. For more details contact Johnny Hanna, partner at KPMG Ireland, Johnny.firstname.lastname@example.org or 02890 893812.