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Employment Law

Legal guidance - compliance - software

Veale Wasborough Vizards , 11 SEP 2017

Brexit fears fuelling fall in net migration

Brexit fears fuelling fall in net migration
Tom Brett Young
Veale Wasbrough Vizards

Fears about Brexit are having the twin effect of discouraging migrants from coming to the UK and encouraging people to leave is suggested by recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

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The figures show that net migration is currently at its lowest level in three years.

According to the ONS, net migration has dropped from 327,000 in March 2016 to 246,000 in March 2017. More than half of this change, which amounts to around 51,000, can be attributed to the net migration of EU citizens.

Of those who came to the UK to work (275,000), the majority had a definite job with significantly fewer than in previous years looking for a job on arrival.

Additionally, a study by KPMG has shown that around a million EEA citizens working in Britain are either planning to leave or have already decided to leave the country as a result of Brexit. A significant number of those surveyed who were either planning to go or considering going hold a PhD or postgraduate degree. Whilst the study showed that Britain remained in the top five most desirable EU countries to work in, nearly half of those questioned said that it now felt less desirable following the referendum.

Further, a Home Office document leaked to the Guardian newspaper earlier this week showed that the government is considering ending free movement of labour and detering all but highly-skilled EU workers from coming to Britain after Brexit takes effect.

What Does This Mean for Employers?

It seems likely that the UK will experience a shortfall in workers at all skill levels following Brexit. This will have serious implications for some industries, with concerns expressed by care homes in particular as care workers are generally unable to meet the skill level requirements to be sponsored under the Tier 2 (General) category.

Employers who currently employ EEA nationals should consider now how they will fill those or similar roles post-Brexit. For example, are these roles ones which only EEA nationals are applying for because British workers aren't interested? Or are they roles which require skills or qualifications that are seldom found within the British workforce? Drastic steps may need to be taken such as restructuring jobs, encouraging British workers to take roles they have previously been reluctant to apply for, or even relocating to elsewhere in the EU.

Employers are reminded that the Migration Advisory Committee is currently asking for evidence to assist in their report to the Government on what a post-Brexit immigration system should look like. Anyone with concerns about how Brexit will affect their workforce is encouraged to respond.