The Government’s white paper on Brexit, promises a post-Brexit Immigration system for everyone. However, it has left businesses wanting, especially those who rely on their vital EU staff. The new immigration system will require all business to have a Sponsorship Licence under Tier 2 to sponsor EU workers for them. This would only apply to those who enter after Brexit and are not eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme.
In order to make the Sponsorship Licencing system Brexit ready, the government is proposing wide-ranging changes to make it easier for a wider range of businesses to access and sponsor staff from outside the UK. However, these proposals have been deemed insufficient by businesses who consider that their needs have not been properly addressed.
A key point of contention is the proposed lowering of the skills requirement from Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) Level 6 (Bachelor’s degree level) to RQF Level 3 (A-Level’s). Whilst this may be welcome for businesses recruiting from outside the EU, those reliant on EU nationals are not used the skills criteria at all. One of the problems for them is that numerous jobs which were conducted by EU workers are below this level. This means they will be excluded from this scheme.
For them, the government proposes a temporary worker scheme. This scheme will allow ‘lower skilled’ workers to enter for periods up to 12 months. They would then be subject to a cooling off period of 12 months, which means they cannot re-enter on this visa until 12 months have elapsed since they last left the UK.
There are several issues with this proposal.
First, it does little to attract workers who would want a stable job, when it is apparent from the outset that they would be expected to leave just as they settle in.
Second, it also means employers would be not have sufficient incentive to train staff in respect of their business as they too know that once the initial 12 months are over, the employee has to return to their country.
The biggest concern of most businesses is that there is insufficient locally trained staff who can cover their business needs. This coupled with the ongoing certainty of Brexit may be a fatal blow for several already struggling businesses.