22nd July 2016
Latest figures from Migration Watch show that there are 26,000 EU residents currently living in Southampton out of a population of 243,000. That means just over one in ten inhabitants in the city are EU nationals. The majority of those are of working age and employed by local businesses or working in industry based in the county.
With a sizeable proportion of Southampton’s workforce stemming from the EU, leading Southampton law firm Moore Blatch is encouraging local businesses to plan for all eventualities when making long term recruitment plans.
Moore Blatch is urging local businesses which employ significant numbers of EU nationals, to plan for a worst case scenario: a scenario where EU nationals are no longer automatically able to work in the UK making them subject to the same points-based system currently applied to non-EU nationals. Should this occur, locally the food and drinks and agriculture sectors could be hit hard as they, in particular, employ many EU workers and rely heavily on that workforce.
If free movement is to be restricted from the EU, businesses in the local area are likely to need sponsor licences to bring in skilled individuals that are not already settled workers.
Moore Blatch is therefore recommending that local employers get a sponsor licence as part of any good business planning to provide an alternative for those individuals and to allow for the recruitment of new workers as well.
In addition, Moore Blatch recommends employers:
Make contingency plans for future job roles;
Carry out an audit of their workforce to see who may be affected;
Establish channels of communication and reassure their workers that their best interests will be looked after in this uncertain period.
EU employees that entered before the referendum date are most unlikely to have problems remaining as long as they continue to pursue an EU right. However, the position of EU workers that enter after 23rd June 2016 may see some restrictions and, as a result, so may their employers.
Katherine Maxwell, partner and head of employment law, Moore Blatch, explains: “With a new Prime Minister in place, attention has turned back to the Brexit negotiations, and many businesses employing EU nationals are asking what it means for them. While employment law is unlikely to change much in the immediate future, the future status of EU workers is currently far from clear.