Before coronavirus, we were all discussing Brexit and Post Brexit Immigration was the hot topic. Details of the UK’s proposed post Brexit immigration regime has been announced. This is a guide to the new points system and how you can begin to prepare for workforce planning. The implementation of the new legislation is planned for January 2021.
It was announced by the government that there would be a new points-based scheme. It has caused concern in some sectors the government terms as employing ‘low-skill, low-paid’ workers. However, you will be able to put plans in place for non-UK workers you wish to retain. And begin exploring how your workforce and talent pipeline may be arranged in the future.
Companies may want to look at internal development through schemes such as apprenticeships, which will help to retain staff. But you may also want to think about flexible working or making roles more attractive to existing employees.
However, with just nine months remaining before the introduction of the new restrictions, you will need to familiarise yourself with the new system. And perhaps adapt your workforce planning strategies accordingly.
The Proposed Scheme
Under the proposed scheme, overseas workers who want to come to the UK after free movement ends on 31 December 2020 will have to meet certain criteria. To do this, they must meet a points system of 70 points or equivalent to be able to work in the UK. The Home Secretary wishes to reduce employers’ reliance on ‘cheap labour’ from EU countries. They wish to see UK businesses adapting by investing more in staff training and retention, and in automation technology.
Points are awarded for factors such as whether the candidate speaks good English. They will also check the level of qualifications held and whether they hit a salary threshold of £25,600. At the same time, the government plans to remove the resident labour market test. This requires employers to advertise certain roles locally before applying for a visa for a migrant worker.
Technology Could be the Key
The technology industry will probably benefit from the lower salary threshold (the current limit for Tier 2 visas is £30,000). A relaxation on the demand that applicants have a degree (the new qualification threshold will be A-level or equivalent).
However, thousands of employers that hire workers from EU countries into lower-paid roles in sectors such as hospitality, social care and food production now face their labour supply being severely compromised. Many have invested in skills development for UK workers through apprenticeships and other programmes. The Office for National Statistics show EU immigration to the UK is at its lowest for 16 years, so the pool of labour is already reduced.
There will be no practical changes to immigration between the UK and the EU until 1 January 2021. However, this time may be used to get to grips with who in your workforce will be affected. You may want to check whether some of your employees will be eligible for a visa and how much this might cost. Check which employees from the EU have already acquired settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme. You need to encourage any EU staff you currently have to confirm their status, settled or not. Waiting times are reasonably quick at the moment, but the service could get busier at the end of the year.
For organisations looking to recruit anyone without settled status from the EU or after 31 December. Getting a sponsor licence should also be a priority. It has not been fully confirmed yet, but the sponsor system is likely to be the same as the current Tier 2 sponsor system for non-EU workers. If you have a licence now, you will be able to sponsor EU workers from January 2021, as long as they comply with the job and salary requirements.
It’s important to keep under review any policies or documentation requirements you have in place around employees’ right to work. Make sure anyone who does carry out these checks is trained and knows where to look for the right information.
The new rules only apply to new entrants and EU nationals who arrive in the UK before 31st December and will have until 30 June 2021 to cement their status in the UK. They will also still be able to bring in family members over the transition period, who will have eligibility to work.
The Migration Advisory Committee estimates that there are around 170,000 recently arrived non-EU citizens in lower-skilled occupations. These people, as well as the dependants of skilled migrants, will continue to be eligible.
You may want to consider how pay and conditions impact on attraction and retention of new employees and developing managers, as they have a big impact on staff’s satisfaction at work. Metis HR provide workshops and courses to help with improving the capability of managers and improve the quality of those relationships with staff.
If you’ve had to increase salaries for certain employees to reach the salary threshold of £25,600, you may need to do this for others in your team. Similarly, the cost of sponsorship and visas could be expensive. It costs around £5,000 to bring someone into the UK alone. Bear in mind that there are potentially other charges, including the immigration skills charge. These are renewable annually. If you agree to cover other payments, such as application fees and the immigration health surcharge, the costs could soon mount up.
You may wish to monitor any revisions to the new points-based system. Continue to forecast what you need, but also consider what may change in the immigration rules. The government has indicated it wants to make it more like the Australian system. This could be a refined version of the current highly skilled migrant programme in the UK. It is possible that it will be introduced in the next three years.
It’s likely the roles listed on the shortage occupation list will evolve. Therefore, keep these under review and incorporate into workforce planning accordingly.
If you require more advice and information on the new post Brexit immigration legislation or details of our management training workshops, then please call us on 01706 565332 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.
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