As many of you will have seen, the Home Office’s draft Post-Brexit Immigration Policy was leaked this week, and has since become a topic of much interest.
The document has caused concern among many employers, as the stricter controls being proposed on EU immigration could lead to a significant shortage of labour in the UK, which could be hugely damaging to the economy. EU nationals currently comprise around 7% of the overall workforce in UK, with certain sectors almost entirely dependant on their contribution. The industries that will be particularly affected by the proposals include housebuilding, farming and hospitality. Concerns are also being floated that the proposed restrictions on the rights of EU family members to enter and remain in UK may further deter workers at all levels of skill from working in the UK. The proposals will limit the scope of the rights of family members to ‘direct family members’ only, which will only include partners, children under 18 and adult-dependent relatives. The current provisions are much wider in scope, and allow indirect family members to enter and remain in the UK, if a close relationship can be demonstrated.
There might be a small silver lining. The document does provide some clarity on the process of implementation, further confirming the belief that there will be an implementation period of ‘at least two years’ after March 2019, so the effects of the new policy, if implemented, will not be immediate. However, it may be too late by then – employers have already begun reporting a drop in the number of EU nationals looking for work in the UK, suggesting that the uncertainty is already having a significant impact on the market.