Let’s not forget about Brexit….
Published: November 20 2020
Earlier this year we looked at the potential impact of Brexit on your workforce. With Brexit now just around the corner, we summarise the current situation and what organisations should be thinking about and planning for following the end of the transition period.
On 31 January 2020 the UK exited the European Union (EU), marking the beginning of a transition period which is due to end on 31 December 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not delayed the transition period end date and organisations should continue to prepare for the end of the transition period and the introduction of the new points-based immigration system.
From 1 January 2021, immigration rules will change from day one, with Home Secretary Priti Patel’s points-based system applying for all new arrivals. EU/EEA/Swiss citizens (excluding Irish citizens) will be subject to the same restrictions as non-EU citizens.
EU Settlement Scheme
If your current workforce has EU/EEA/Swiss employees then these employees and their family members (including non-EU citizens) need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to continue to live, work and study in the UK.
This also applies to those who have lived in the UK for many years or have a permanent residence document. The deadline for applications is 30 June 2021. You can make your employees aware of this or remind them not to miss the deadline for application.
In addition, if your organisation is UK-based and employs EU/EEA/Swiss citizens who need to travel to the UK for work, then they will need to comply with the new business visitor rules in the UK. National ID cards may no longer be accepted for entry to the UK for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens after 1 January 2021. You will need to ensure that these employees have the correct documentation to travel to the UK.
If you are thinking of recruiting from the EU/EEA/Switzerland to the UK, then it may be wise to do so prior to 31 December 2020 and provide support to your employees to apply for pre-settled status under EUSS.
There will be no need to repeat checks for existing employees from 1 January 2021. However, new employees are likely to need evidence of settled status, pre-settled status or a visa.
The existing Tier 2 categories will close slightly earlier than expected on 1 December 2020.
The Tier 2 (General) category for skilled workers with a job offer in the UK will transition into the ‘skilled worker’ route and the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) categories for existing employees of linked overseas entities will be known simply as ‘Intra-company routes’.
Skilled worker route
Sponsored workers will need a job offer in a role that is skilled to at least Regulations Qualifications Framework (RQF) Level 3 (A-Level equivalent). This is a reduction from the current requirement of RQF level 6 (degree-level equivalent).
The minimum salary threshold has been reduced from £30,000 to £25,600 although there will be some exemption, especially for public service occupations.
The Resident Labour Market Test will be abolished, but sponsors may need to demonstrate a genuine need for the role in question and that the migrant they wish to sponsor has the necessary skills, qualifications and experience.
Global Talent scheme
The Global Talent scheme will be opened up to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. It will allow highly-skilled scientists and researchers to come to the UK without a job offer.
New visa categories
Health and Care Visa
The Health and Care Visa, part of the Skilled Worker route, is a newly defined category that will be included in the new system.
The UK government has stated that there will be “fast-track entry, with reduced application fees and dedicated support regarding the application process, for eligible individuals to come to the UK with their families”.
A new graduate immigration route will be available to international students who have completed their degree in the UK from summer 2021.
Graduate students will be able to work or find employment in the UK at any skill level for up to two years (bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates) or three years (PhD graduates).
Consideration should be given to your timeline when recruiting non-Irish EEA citizens. As there will be a requirement to apply for a visa, the process will take longer.
Therefore, organisations should consider reviewing their recruitment needs and plan accordingly to minimise staff shortage and skills gaps.
You may need to review and update your budget as there may some associated costs:
- a sponsorship licence to recruit non-UK nationals will apply which currently costs £1,536 for medium and large organisations and £536 for small organisations
- an Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) for every worker sponsored. The current cost is set at £1,000 (or £364 for small or charitable sponsors) for the first 12 months of a worker’s employment with a sponsor, and £500 (or £182 for small or charitable sponsors) for each subsequent six months
- it is likely that many employers will absorb other costs incurred by the visa applicant such as the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) which, as of 1 October 2020, has increased from £400 to £624 per year of visa.
The UK may no longer be considered an attractive option for prospective candidates. This may not only pose an issue with recruitment but also a gap in skills and knowledge within organisations.
Organisations should put a workforce planning strategy in place that is based on current and projected make-up of the workforce. This may involve carrying out a training needs analysis too which would help highlight any training needs and bridge the gap.
Organisations have had to adapt to changes and disruption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Brexit transition period comes to an end relatively soon, therefore, organisations should have a plan in place to minimise further disruption.
If you would like assistance with reviewing your current policies or procedures, restructuring your existing workforce, or employer branding then please contact a member of the KentHR team.