Whilst the UK government has been actively engaged in negotiating the best Brexit deal for the country, a considerable number of UK businesses have already been reporting a lack of workers as their EU employees leave jobs and return back to their native countries or seek employment in other Member States.
A recent survey of over 1,600 UK companies reported their common concern over the potential loss of EU workers. Apparently, vacant positions are not being filled from the national labour pool and companies, especially retail and hospitality firms, fear they may have no other option but to stop trading. Meanwhile, manufacturing companies are threatening to move their business abroad and employ locals rather than trying to hunt for suitable candidates in the UK or satisfy stringent immigration requirements for employing workers from non-EU countries.
In her recent open letter addressed to over 3 million EU nationals in the EU Theresa May claimed to understand their ‘underlying anxiety’ and pledged to secure their residence rights in the UK after Brexit. The deal between the European Commission and the UK government reached in December last year confirmed EU citizens’ rights to live, study and work in the UK and promised that administrative processes to secure these rights will be straightforward and transparent. However, the response of EU nationals to the UK-EU deal and to the Prime Minister’s assurances does not seem to have been very enthusiastic. Many EU nationals who have lived in the UK for decades and have already obtained permanent residence cards were angered by the fact that they will need to go through the application process again and have to face new bureaucratic hurdles and pay fees to see their status in the UK secured post-Brexit.
Reaction from UK business communities was not optimistic either. BCC Director General Adam Marshall responded to the Prime Minister’s offer of guarantees to the EU citizens by stating that: “This offer could have been made loudly and clearly nearly a year ago in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, which would have spared individuals, communities and employers significant angst and worry. Signals matter, and the UK government’s lack of clarity until now has meant that many UK firms have lost valued members of staff, with others saying that key employees are thinking about leaving”. Mr Marshall has accepted that after the recent EU-UK agreement on the rights of EU nationals “Businesses will be breathing sigh of relief” but stressed that: “Companies all across the UK want absolute clarity on the long-term deal being sought, and want government to work closely with business experts to ensure that the details are right”.
We have yet to see how the final UK-EU negotiations will be implemented in national law. Meanwhile, it is clear that there will be no automatic residence rights for EU nationals in the UK once it leaves the EU, and those who consider staying in the UK post-Brexit are encouraged to act now and apply to the Home Office for relevant residence documents.
Gherson has an experienced staff that specialises in assisting with visas in all immigration categories. We are widely regarded as one of the leading firms in immigration and have received a number of awards for our services.
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The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.