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Nine out of 10 UK businesses believe the recruitment of EU nationals plays an important role in their UK operations, but despite potential losses of EU employees, two fifths of businesses do not plan on reallocating roles to Britons.
According to a report released today by immigration law firm Fragomen, 41% of respondents said they would not replace low-skilled workers with new hires, opting instead to move work overseas, scale down production, do less business in the UK or to automate more. And 39% of employers plan to do the same for high-skilled roles that may be lost to the new immigration system.
Following the UK’s departure from the EU, the UK government is set to overhaul the UK immigration system on 1 January 2021, ending the free movement for European citizens.
Fragomen, which surveyed 502 UK businesses, found that 70% of employers have concerns about the prospect of new immigration policies coming into effect. Only 20% of UK employers fully understand how the new policies will impact their recruitment and less than 60% have offered support to employees in applying for settled status in the UK.
Ian Robinson, partner at Fragomen, said: “We are rapidly moving closer to a new immigration system which will mean huge changes for businesses across the UK, but it is clear that a vast majority of employers are not prepared. The end of free movement for EU citizens is a fundamental change to the UK’s relationship with the EU and businesses will need to rethink how they staff their organisation and run their operations”.
“The report clearly demonstrates businesses are unprepared for the changes, with the IT, hospitality and construction sectors most concerned about new policies. Understandably, the global pandemic has made long-term planning difficult but all business with EU employees need to take immediate steps to assess their business to understand how the new immigration policies will impact their staffing and what the associated costs of the new system will be to your company. There is still time, but employers must act now.”
Despite government efforts to promote the scheme, 22% of UK employers do not know where to find information in order to support their EU employees ahead of the deadline, while three in 10 did not fully understand the cost of the new immigration system.
Fragomen surveyed 502 people working in human resources and global mobility across a range of sectors and company sizes.
There has been some discussion about the UK introducing a Displaced Talent Mobility programme to enable UK employers to sponsor skilled people who are forcibly displaced. Asked what business would do if such a visa was introduced, 73% of employers said they would actively look for or consider opportunities to sponsor candidates from this talent pool.
Marina Brizar, UK director of Talent Beyond Boundaries, which helps displaced people move internationally for work by leveraging their professional, said: “Talent shortages will affect the future of the UK’s economy and society, so developing new and creative solutions to address shortages is essential.
“The globally forcibly displaced population should be part of the solution through Displaced Talent Mobility. It is encouraging that this model is being seriously considered and enthusiastically embraced by the policymakers and the business community.”