Firms 'not ready' for new immigration curbs - CIPD

The bulk of UK employers are "simply not ready" for the post-Brexit restrictions on immigration being proposed by the government, a major survey has found

Image of the Gherkin in London to illustrate article about Brexit impact on employment
In a survey of more than 2,100 employers, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that 58% were unaware of the proposals put forward in the government's Immigration White Paper.Only 17% had thoroughly assessed the impact that the end of freedom of movement would have on their businesses while more than half said they did not have enough information to plan their post-Brexit recruitment strategy.Additionally, some 13% of respondents said they were likely to move some of their operations abroad.
“Employers are simply not ready for the introduction of new immigration restrictions,” the CIPD report - 'A Practical Immigration System for Post-Brexit Britain' - concluded.The government proposals for a system to come into force at the beginning of 2021 are currently out for consultation with the Migration Advisory Committee being tasked with assessing the impact of the proposed £30,000 minimum salary threshold and the efficacy of the Australian points system for immigration.Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser for the CIPD, said: "Very few employers are ready for the end of free movement and restrictions on immigration in just over a year. Worse still, many seem both daunted and alarmed by the range of restrictions planned and the costs they are likely to incur."Even if they can access the talent they need, there are concerns they may not be able to afford it. In response, the planned introduction of migration restrictions must be phased in to offset the risk of a labour supply shock and to avoid harming UK competitiveness.“It seems inevitable that the rate of inflow of EU citizens into the UK from 2021 will fall compared with recent years. With so few employers ready, we need a ‘safety buffer’ to give them more time to adjust."We need a set of workable policies that apply across all sectors that are simple, low-cost, fair and user friendly for both employers and non-UK citizens. However, the current timetable and balance is working against the short-term interests of employers and EU citizens.”

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The CIPD is putting forward a series of recommendations to government including a suggestion that the two white paper proposals for low-skilled EU workers (the Youth Mobility Scheme for 18-30 year olds, and temporary 12-month visas) be merged to create a straightforward, two-year visa."This visa would allow EU citizens to live and work in the UK for a maximum of two years to study or work without a job offer – irrespective of age. This would simplify the system, make it fairer and reduce administrative costs," said the CIPD.The report said that, were such a visa introduced, the CIPD would support the proposal for a £30,000 salary threshold but with exceptions for labour shortage occupations, such as in healthcare and social work."To ensure simplicity and accessibility, the CIPD suggests the removal of the current proposals around a skill threshold," adds the report."The need for both a salary and skill threshold in deciding whether employers can recruit EU nationals is unnecessary. For example, very few occupations which require below intermediate level skills would provide a salary of £30,000 or above."The CIPD said the survey found that many employers were concerned by the potential costs of recruiting workers via the skilled route, which would involve a sponsorship licence, skills surcharge and a visa."We therefore support initiatives to consider a ‘tiered’ sponsorship system. Amongst other streamlined schemes, this would include an umbrella sponsorship system that would allow membership and sectoral bodies to be responsible for compliance duties," said the CIPD.

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