Legal Eye: Brexit and Recruitment
In this month's legal eye feature, we spoke to legal experts about what recruitment companies should be aware of as we approach the Brexit deadline in March 2019.
Gareth Wadley, employment & global mobility partner at Gateley Plc, says, "The Home Office has proposed a new EU Settlement Scheme, which provides EU nationals, and their employers, with some long-awaited clarity on the immigration status of EU nationals in the UK.
"Free movement into the UK is to be retained until the end of 2020 with EU nationals who have been continuously resident for five years able to apply for 'settled status' and those who have been in the UK for less than five years eligible for 'pre-settled status' and a route to settlement.
"Uncertainty does still persist given the possibility of a 'no deal' and we also await details of the immigration rules which are to apply to EU nationals wishing to enter the UK after 2020. However, there are steps that employers can be taking now.
"Employers should keep affected employees informed of any development and make them aware of the steps they will need to take to maintain their immigration status. Furthermore, businesses with a heavy reliance on EU nationals must be prepared; audits of existing workforces should be taken, identifying critical roles that may be affected as well as key business areas. Recruitment strategies also need to be developed to address potential resource issues and HR teams should keep up to date with the latest Brexit developments and update policies and procedures accordingly.
"Negotiations are still taking place between the UK Government and the European Union, but that shouldn't stop businesses getting as organised as they can in preparation for change"
Emma James, sssociate at Brabners LLP, adds, "As the Brexit date fast approaches, recruiters will be eager to get their houses in order. Thankfully, the Government has confirmed that free movement of workers will continue during the transition period (29th March 2018 - 31st December 2020).
"Whilst this provides some clarity, the immigration regime is still likely to change in the long-term and candidate shortages are already being seen. Recruiters should look at which candidates may be affected so contingency plans can be put in place.
"Failing to offer individuals work now because of concerns regarding long-term residence raises potential discrimination issues. Recruiters need to be mindful of this and ensure their clients are alert to these risks as well.
"Those with both UK and EU offices should keep in mind the potential for divergence between UK legislation and EU laws post Brexit. Legal advice can of course be taken in both jurisdictions where changes are needed."
Siobhan Howard-Palmer, employment associate, and Graham Hansen, commercial associate at HRC Law, comment, "A big issue for recruiters will be maintaining the same access to talent so that they can stay competitive. There are three threads to this: This impact of any loss of freedom of movement of workers; enticing people to come and work in the UK without it; and engaging and incentivising UK workers.
"At present, we have access to an EU-wide candidate marketing and skills offering without concerns over 'right to work' and immigration status. Post-Brexit, visas or other immigration documents may well become necessary. Preparing for this, by understanding business immigration options as they become clear, is key.
"How will recruitment and other UK businesses address and shortfall of skilled workers? Upskilling or incentivising the existing UK workforce is one option. Creating packages that incentivise EU citizens to come and work in the UK is another.
"You can protect your business by considering Brexit issues in relation to your contracts with others too. Terms should be (re)drafted wherever possible, so that, for example: (i) you don't bear the cost of any visa applications and expenses, (ii) you aren't liable for any costs/losses in the event that a hire falls through because a candidate does not/cannot get a 'right to work'; and (iii) in client contracts, your talent pool is well protected.".
Originally published in Recruitment International: http://library.myebook.com/RI/ri-october-2018/1362/#page/48