The prospect of Brexit is causing uncertainty for many people in many ways; however, the impact for businesses could be greater than anyone imagined. New research has found that almost 50% of highly-skilled workers from Europe who currently live and work in the UK are planning to leave within the next five years.
The big questions for the UK are whether this exodus can be prevented and what the alternatives are if businesses lose some of their workforce as a result of Brexit.
Why do workers want to leave the UK?
Part of the reason for workers wanting to leave the UK after Brexit is the economic uncertainty. The fall in the value of the pound against the euro means that money earned in the UK and sent to a country in Europe is now worth less than before the 2016 referendum.
Added to this is the uncertainty surrounding immigration and the fact that over 60% of highly-skilled workers from the EU now think that Britain is a less attractive place to live.
How could workers stay in the UK?
Provided workers from the EU want to stay in the UK, it will depend on the post-Brexit immigration arrangements for EU nationals that are negotiated by the government. The government’s current plan is that EU nationals who have lived in the UK for more than five years will be granted ‘settled status’, meaning that they can live, work, access benefits and apply for British citizenship.
Other rules are proposed regarding cut-off dates and EU nationals who do not fit the five years’ residency criteria, those who want to bring family to the UK, and those who commit crimes in the UK.
What will businesses need to do if workers leave?
If EU workers choose to leave the UK, particularly those in highly-skilled jobs, businesses and the government will need to take responsibility for increasing and improving the skills of UK workers so that they can take on more highly-skilled roles.
It may also mean UK businesses embracing technology to do the jobs of EU workers if UK workers are unable to take these on.
If you are a business that relies on a workforce from the EU, you will need to be prepared for the fact that some may choose to leave for purely economic reasons post-Brexit. Others may have to leave or their residency status in the UK may change once the UK has left the EU, meaning they are unable to work.
Your business needs to have a plan, and your planning should start now.
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