The news that the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU) has caused shockwaves for employers who employ EU workers. At present, the position on what will happen to existing EU workers in the UK is unknown and will depend on the exit terms that are negotiated between the UK and the EU.
There are a number of possibilities for existing EU workers in the UK including: those that are employed can remain in the UK without any restrictions; entry restrictions imposed on non-EU workers being extended to EU workers or EU workers having to gain a new type of permission from the Government, within a specified deadline, to remain in the UK.
Though the position around EU workers is uncertain, employers should be encouraged to carry out some contingency planning as soon as possible. This could be through taking steps to formalise current EU workers’ employment and making sure that there is formal paperwork in place to show that the EU workers were employed before the exit from the EU takes place.
There is likely to be a distinction between EU workers who entered the UK before the exit and those who enter post-exit. If employers cannot show that their workers were employed before the exit then they may be wrongly subjected to the, likely, greater restrictions. One possible restriction on EU workers entering the UK after the exit could be to extend the points-based/sponsorship system that currently applies to non-EU workers. This is a complicated system which divides workers in to Tiers based on their skills and the type of work involved, with each Tier having entry requirements such as English language ability, financial support and previous experience.
Choosing not to formalise the employment may leave you in an uncertain position if you are unable to prove that your workers were employed pre-exit.