How will Brexit affect businesses employing staff from abroad?

My business employs from the EU, what do I need to do?


If you employed your staff before 31-Dec-2020 you can relax a bit - you will not need to do anything special

However, your EU workers will need to make sure they have applied for the EU Settlement Scheme by 30-Jun-2021


So what if I wish to hire people from 01-Jan-2021?


You can directly hire people from the UK and Ireland without needing anything special.

However, if you intend to hire from any other country, you will now need a Sponsor Licence before you can employ migrants.


In addition, the candidates will need to meet various criteria to be eligible for a work Visa (which we have explained below)


Who can become a Licenced Sponsor ?


Any business, large or small can, so long as they have not broken any immigration rules previously.


It is expected that a successful application will take up to eight weeks so it's best to


Do I have to pay to become a Licenced Sponsor?


Sadly yes. The government's view is that the cost of running immigration should not be borne by the general tax payer and so it is only fair that those businesses and employees that make use of it also help to fund it.


It will be between the employer and the migrant employee to determine how they share the burden of the fees.


'Small businesses' will have to pay £536 and 'medium sized businesses' will pay £1,476


What criteria does the worker need to meet?


Essentially there are 5 key points:

  • They must not have a criminal record

  • They must speak English

  • They must be educated to the equivalent of 'A Level' standard

  • They must have a job offer from a Licenced Sponsor

  • They must be paid the higher of £25,600 or the 'going rate' for the job

There is some provision to be made if the salary is between £20,480 and £25,600 especially if the UK has a recognised skills shortage in the job being applied for or if the candidate is just starting out in his career or they have a PhD that's relevant for the job.


NB: There is no provision for anyone that earns below £20,480 or does not have 'A Level' equivalent qualification


All this seems very complicated - has Brexit made things worse?


There is no doubt that hiring people from the EU will be more difficult now. However, there are definitely some positives as well. For example:

  • The new rules means if you're hiring from outside the EU, things will be much more streamlined. Before the changes, it could take 3 to 4 months to hire someone from outside the EU but the new system aims to reduce this down to just 1 month

  • The new system competes with similar points based systems in USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. The UK system is aiming to be quicker and simpler than all of these (except maybe Singapore). The system is still new but the government aims to make it streamlined with greater digitisation etc.

  • The rules change control of immigration from the (EU) migrant to the nation (UK). It will allow more skills based immigration and hopefully help to raise wages. At least that is the aim

However, there is the cost of becoming a licenced sponsor and again, for EU hires, we will definitely see greater bureaucracy compared to before.


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