UK employers concerned by worker restrictions post Brexit

An interim report into the effect of Brexit on the UK labour market has found that employers are concerned about restrictions on their ability to recruit workers from the European Economic Area (EEA).

A report carried out by the Migration and Advisory Committee (MAC), revealed that many employers are concerned that the rules and the caps currently placed on the number of workers granted a working visa under the Tier 2 visa system would be applied to EEA migrants post-Brexit.

This, some employers say, would make it much to harder to hire much needed workers, especially those in higher-skilled sectors.

That said, employers in lower-skilled sectors were also concerned about restrictions potentially being imposed. It is in these sectors where the MAC revealed there had been a particularly large increase in the share of EEA migrant workers since 2004.

All employers, though, were keen to point out that they do not look to employ foreign workers ahead of potential employees already in the UK.

The report revealed that employers found foreign workers were often best for the job as they had skills that were scarce among the UK-born workforce, were considered more motivated, and were more prepared to do jobs in difficult conditions than UK-born candidates.

Gerwyn Davies, Senior Labour Market Analyst at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, is hoping that the government will take the MAC’s findings seriously.

“Looking ahead, we hope that the government sees the merit in a labour shortage occupation list,” Davies said. “Under this arrangement, employers would have to show that they are making efforts to improve the supply of UK workers while demonstrating that the occupation has a genuine labour or skill shortage. This more selective approach to controlling unskilled or low-skilled migration from the EU could potentially act as a catalyst for improving employer practice and enable most organisations to meet their labour and skills needs.”

Article published 28th March 2018