Immigration and employment update – preparing for Brexit
By Teni Shahiean, CEO at OTS Solicitors
Today, we stand on the brink. Too dramatic? Not according to industry leaders. The CBI is warning that a No-deal Brexit would put thousands of UK jobs at risk. CBI director general, Carolyn Fairbairn, talks of profound economic consequences with the potential for GDP to fall by up to 8%.
The CBI is worried about more than Brexit uncertainty. The director general of the CBI is calling on the government to reconsider its post-Brexit Immigration policy. The concerns centre on the lower skilled and low-income migrants, who in the CBI view are necessary for a successful UK economy.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
In a time of uncertainty, it is easy to think the best option is to wait in the hope that Brexit will not affect you, your family, your staff or your business. There are proactive steps you can take.
If the UK ends up with a deal in accordance with the draft Withdrawal Agreement, the transitional period will continue until the 31 December 2020.
On the 1 January 2021 Immigration measures will be brought in. That gives roughly 19 months of free movement for EEA workers in the UK after the 29 March 2019 until the end of the transitional period. In the opinion of the best London Immigration and employment law solicitors doing nothing and waiting for the transition period to end is not a sensible option.
If the UK exits the EU without a deal the UK enters times that are even more uncertain.
top London immigration solicitors say that, if there is no deal, then Immigration control could be brought in sooner. Some question how realistic it would be for Immigration control to be imposed without a transitional period.
The EU Settlement Scheme for EU nationals applies to EU citizens who are currently resident in the UK. The best London immigration solicitors say the scheme enables EU citizens and their families to obtain status under the UK Immigration rules.
If there is a No-deal Brexit, the government has confirmed that EU nationals (and their families) resident in the UK before 29 March 2019 will still be able to apply for status under the Settlement Scheme.
If parliament approves the Withdrawal Agreement, then the Settlement Scheme will be extended to EU nationals and their family members who are resident in the UK before 31 December 2020.
top London immigration solicitors emphasise that the Settlement Scheme only covers EU nationals. Separate agreements have yet to be reached with the governments of Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland
The White paper on Immigration and employers
• The time taken to secure a visa for an employee;
• The cost of visas;
• The administrative burden of operating the Certificate of Sponsorship.
When the Points Based System is extended to EU workers as well as non-EEA migrant workers, the visa costs and administration may add to the burdens experienced by small business owners and large companies in trying to make business profitable. This is at a time when business owners may struggle to pass on their increased Employment costs to consumers who may not be able to afford higher prices.
The best London immigration solicitors advise that there are also concerns over the proposed salary threshold for skilled workers under the Tier 2 visa system. Will the salary threshold push up the salaries of skilled migrant workers? That question is of great concern to many employers.
Steps to take
It is an obvious point but not all employees are proactive. Some business owners are encouraging employees to apply for permanent residence by paying visa fees and holding advice clinics at the place of work.
If an employee has lived and worked lawfully in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years, they can apply for permanent residence.
The best London immigration solicitors advise that it may also be possible for an employee to apply for permanent residence if they have lived in the UK for 5 years but not worked for the full 5 years.
The major benefit of this from an employer and employee’s perspective is that the individual will not be subject to Immigration control on their right to reside and work in the UK.
That is why it is so important for employers to support employees in making applications for permanent residence. Given the potential for a no-deal and ongoing uncertainty, top London immigration solicitors are recommending permanent residence applications are made now.
Apply for British Citizenship
The option of applying for British Citizenship may sound like an extreme step but for some people it may be the right option.
As some EU countries, for example Germany, do not allow dual nationality with a country outside the EU, the application should be made prior to the UK withdrawal from the EU, if this issue applies.
Applying for an EEA registration certificate
Top London Immigration and employment law solicitors advise that if an employee has not worked in the UK for 5 years, then it is advisable for EEA nationals to apply for an EEA Registration Certificate or alternatively register under the new EU Settlement Scheme.
Registration confirms an employee’s status and that the employee has a right to reside and work in the UK without Immigration control.
After Brexit, it should be easier for EU workers who have already applied for a Registration Certificate to show that they were exercising rights to reside under EU law and therefore should benefit from any transitional arrangements to allow those living and working in the UK before a specified date to continue to do so free of Immigration control.
Furthermore, if there is a transitional period, any EEA nationals coming to the UK to work during the transition period should also register under the scheme.
Staff retention planning
There was probably never a time when it was so important to look at a company’s existing workforce and find ways to create staff loyalty and staff engagement with the company.
The director general of the CBI has said that training UK citizens will not plug the anticipated gap left by the UK losing some of its migrant workforce. However, starting to look at staff training and budgeting for future training needs is something that proactive employers need to start.
In the Immigration White paper, it is said that low paid, non-skilled workers will be able to come to the UK to work for 12 months. Employers should think about their company training requirements if they need to attract UK job candidates or will not be able to engage new migrant staff for more than 12 months.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
For more information on how Brexit may affect you or your business and for advice on your options or to discuss bespoke OTS Solicitors employment law training services please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London Immigration and employment solicitors.