The future residency status of EU employees following Brexit is a real concern for UK businesses, according to new research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
EU Employees Concerned
The survey questioned over 800 businesses that employ staff from the EU, and found that two fifths have employees who are concerned about their future right to stay on in the UK.
Around 5% of businesses have apparently already seen EU employees resign following the Brexit decision, and 10% report that some employees have said they intend to leave the UK.
To help relieve the current uncertainty for both businesses and employees, the BCC has called on the Government to give an immediate clarification on the residence rights of existing EU employees. It says that the potential skills lost from existing EU workers leaving the UK would hamper businesses at a time when many are already reporting recruitment difficulties. Businesses also need clarity on hiring from the 27 other EU countries during the transition period.
Future Immigration Policy
In addition, the BCC is urging the Government to create a future immigration policy that allows businesses to plug their skills shortages with employees from the EU, with minimal bureaucracy, cost or barriers.
“Since the referendum many firms have expressed concern over the future status of their existing EU workforce,” commented Adam Marshall, BCC Acting Director General. “These hardworking people are absolutely vital to the success of businesses, and must be retained – we cannot afford to lose talented and skilled workers. Theresa May should reassure them as soon as possible that they will have the right to remain in the UK, to provide much-needed certainty both for EU employees and UK employers.”
Changes to Citizenship
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has also raised concerns over the possible impact this uncertainty could have on the UK economy, and on the NHS in particular.
It says that there was a 14% increase in the number of EU nationals applying for British citizenship in the 12 months leading up to the EU referendum, and blames this on the fact that EU nationals currently living in the UK are unsure of their future status. It highlights that as 10% of NHS doctors are from the EU, this uncertainty is worrying for the NHS and the economy as a whole.
IPPR has called on the UK Government to make the following changes to the current citizenship system:
- Granting British citizenship to all EU nationals working in the NHS to prevent a health emergency;
- Granting indefinite leave to remain to all other EU citizens currently living in Britain;
- Long-term EU residents and European children in our schools should be eligible for citizenship, in recognition of their particularly strong bond with our country.
“Some of our world-leading industries – such as financial services, technology, engineering and academia – owe their success to immigrants working alongside Brits, yet the uncertainty that Brexit has brought could impact negatively on these sectors of the economy,” said IPPR research fellow, Chris Murray.
“The need for clarity around the status of EU migrants is urgent and crucial for our economy,” he added. “We are concerned about a larger number of highly-skilled EU nationals who may simply leave the country, causing a big brain drain that harms our economy.”
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