UK's post-Brexit immigration plan slammed: 'Catastrophic' for employers

UK's post-Brexit immigration plan slammed: 'Catastrophic' for employers

A leaked Government whitepaper detailing its post-Brexit immigration policy, has sparked criticism from a number of employers and industry leaders.

The plan includes ending free movement of labour immediately and adding restrictions that attempt to deter all but highly-skilled EU workers from entering the UK.

Employers have warned that the policy would be “catastrophic” for some industries, especially those reliant on migrants. Currently, around 2.2million European Union nationals work in Britain, making up seven per cent of the workforce.

Yet, Britain’s ‘Brexit’ stance on European workers has already had an effect on employment figures. According to the ONS, there has been a 1.1% drop in the number of workers from eight eastern European countries in the three months to June.

Industries expected to be hit hardest by immigration plans include retail and hospitality as 75% of waiters and 25% of chefs working in the UK come from other EU nations. Speaking to The Guardian, Ufi Ibrahim, the Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association said: “If these proposals are implemented it could be catastrophic for the UK hospitality industry,”.

Chief Executive of the hotel chain Travelodge, Peter Gowers, added similar sentiments: “Even if the hotel industry recruited virtually every person on the unemployment register there wouldn’t be enough people to fill all the roles needed in the 10 years following Brexit.”

And, Douglas McWilliams, the Executive Chairman of CEBR warns: “If you destroy the capacity for people to come here looking for work, then there will be a significant effect to the economy and a very big knock-on effect for the public finances.”

With the government’s leaked immigration plans receiving widespread condemnation, if they are implemented, HR and resourcing departments are set to pick up the slack.

At a recent event, which HR Grapevine attended, UK talent management company INTOO spoke about the disruption that Brexit is causing in the HR sphere.

INTOO’s Commercial and Operations Director for UK & Ireland, Owen Morgan said: “We need to be more open, include our people in what is happening, but also start preparing them for any changes to their roles, both as a result of Brexit and other world of work trends. Resilience, in addition to an increased focus on learning, is something we can affect now to help our people manage these and future changes.”

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