Many employers are not prepared for the introduction of new immigration restrictions planned for January 2021 and a lack of planning and ongoing political uncertainty mean that few organisations are equipped to deal with a reduced inflow of EU workers post-Brexit.

The warning comes from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) as it launched a new report, Migration: A practical immigration system for post-Brexit Britain.

Available at https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/a-practical-immigration-system-for-post-brexit-britain_tcm18-64059.pdf, this is based on findings from a survey of nearly 2200 employers, and a series of focus groups, held with employers across the UK over the last four months.

According to the CIPD, more than half of employers are completely in the dark about the Government’s immigration proposals, with 58% saying they know nothing about the Government’s White Paper on immigration.

Just 7% said they knew “a lot” and 35% said that they knew “a little” about it.

The White Paper proposes introducing a minimum salary threshold of £30,000 for recruiting most non-UK nationals from 2021.

However, when asked what minimum salary threshold would enable them to meet their skills and labour needs after Brexit, the most popular employer response was a threshold of £20,000 (16% of employers), followed by £30,000 (14%) and £25,000 (12%).

More than half (56%) of employers said they did not have enough information to start making decisions about their post-Brexit recruitment strategy, while only a quarter (27%) are happy to make decisions based on existing information.

Recommendations

The CIPD is urging the Government to:

  • merge the planned 12-month temporary visa route with the Youth Mobility Scheme to create a two-year temporary visa route for all workers, to be reviewed in 2025

  • allow for lower salary thresholds to be set for skilled workers based on jobs covered by the shortage occupation list (SOL)

  • make the system more user-friendly through reform of the sponsorship system.

Senior labour market advisor Gerwyn Davies said: “It seems inevitable that the rate of inflow of EU citizens into the UK from 2021 will fall compared with recent years. With so few employers ready, we need a ‘safety buffer’ to give them more time to adjust. We need a set of workable policies that apply across all sectors that are simple, low-cost, fair and user friendly for both employers and non-UK citizens.”

It is not surprising that employers are struggling to prepare their post-Brexit recruitment strategies given the host of different promises and changes suggested in recent months. From a purely business point of view, employers will be hoping a decision on Brexit is made sooner rather than later, as only then are they likely to feel comfortable pressing on with their recruitment plans.

Comment by Croner Associate Director Paul Holcroft

Naturally, the worry for employers is that stricter immigration laws will reduce their ability to access key talent. After all, there are likely to be many important positions within an organisation that do not necessarily warrant the £30,000 a year salary required to meet the Government’s immigration threshold.

Therefore, as yet another Brexit deadline approaches, it will be interesting to see whether the Government acts on the requests of the CIPD by introducing lower salary thresholds for certain roles, as well as increasing mobility through an extended temporary visa scheme.

Last reviewed 26 September 2019