Potential skills gap

The hospitality sector in the UK relies heavily on a European workforce and there are widespread concerns about the impact of Brexit on the availability of labour. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) produced its interim report on the current and likely future patterns of EEA. Most shocking was the evidence produced by the report that EEA migrants are often the best, sometimes the only qualified candidate for the job.

For businesses in the hospitality industry who have built their business models with EEA migration playing an important role, the impact of a dwindling labour market will have a negative impact. Many employers noted that skills are not the only desirable aspect of EEA migrant staff. The report notes that: “many employers expressed the view that EEA migrants were more motivated and flexible than UK-born workers – this included a greater willingness to work longer and unsociable hours, to welcome overtime, and a consistently strong work ethic”.

How can businesses retain their European workforce?

Many businesses in the hospitality sector are considering how they can best support their European workers to ensure that they want to, or are able to stay in the UK after Brexit. Many of our business immigration clients have been offering support to their staff through providing Brexit briefings, subsidised permanent residence applications and on-site workshops and seminars.

Advice on steps European nationals living in the UK can take now

  1. Do nothing
    European nationals currently have the same rights to live and work in the UK as they did prior to the referendum decision. They do not need to apply for a permanent or temporary residence card to evidence this right.
  2. Apply for permanent residence followed by settled status when the scheme opens
    Although European nationals do not need to take any steps now they could opt to apply for permanent residence. Many Europeans have done this as a way of proving their status. It may seem counter intuitive to apply now as they will need to reapply for settle status in the future, however the application process currently has a fast turnaround time as people are waiting for the settled status route to open and are not currently submitting applications. The process to then switch from permanent residence to settled status is intended to be straightforward.
  3. Wait for the settled status scheme to open and apply on a voluntary basis
    For European nationals currently in the UK who have completed five years residence, they will have the option to apply for settled status on a voluntary basis. This application can be made from the date on which the route opens (Autumn 2018) to 30th June 2021. They are not required to apply before 30th June 2021 but they may find that there are practical reasons for securing confirmation of status early, for example, it will make it easier to evidence a right to work to an employer and easier to return to the UK after travel abroad. They will need to apply at some time before 30th June 2021 as the scheme will then be mandatory and those who have not registered will likely not have permission to live and work in the UK.
  4. Apply for temporary status when the scheme opens
    For European nationals who have not yet completed a period of 5 years residence, they will be able to apply for temporary residence when the new scheme opens. They will then be able to apply for settled status when they complete their 5 years residence. This is voluntary until 30th June 2021 but again there are practical reasons for applying as soon as the scheme opens, such as being able to confirm a right to reside and work when employers require this evidence.

How much will this cost?

Permanent residence is £65 per applicant. We anticipate that settled status and temporary residence will cost no more than a British passport which is currently £72. The switch from permanent residence to settled status will be free of charge.

For more advice specific to your situation, please contact:

Emma Brooksbank – Partner & Immigration Specialist

T: 0345 166 6300

E: emma.brooksbank@freeths.co.uk

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.