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As part of the UK’s international development following its departure from the EU, immigration is one of the areas set to change in the coming months.

We have already discussed the information you should provide to existing EU citizens you employ to ensure you can continue their employment after the EU transition period ends on 31st December 2020. However, if you plan to recruit internationally in the future, the way you do this is also subject to change – for both EU and Rest of World (RoW) citizens.

From 1st January 2021, anyone entering the UK from abroad will be subject to a new points-based immigration system, which will adapt the type of labour available to UK companies. Beyond this, this UK’s leaving of the EU may see immigration patterns change, which again could impact your recruitment efforts.

This blog will explain the changes to immigration and how you can adapt your recruitment efforts to make sure you still have access to the skills you need for your business.

Employing EU nationals already living in the UK

EU citizens currently living and working in the UK need to obtain ‘pre-settled’ or ‘settled’ status to continue to work here. To get this status, they must apply under the EU Settlement Scheme before 30th June 2021. This only applies to those who begin living in the UK by 31st December 2020.

If you are looking to hire an EU citizen who is already living in the UK, it is therefore wise to check that they are aware of the EU Settlement Scheme. The government are yet to announce what measures will be in place for anyone who does not have the appropriate status after 30th June 2021, but there is a risk they may be unable to remain in the UK. So, if they want to continue to work for your company from 1st July onwards, they should apply under the scheme.

Following 30th June, you may have to undertake checks on EU citizens you are employing to make sure they have ‘pre-settled’ or ‘settled’ status, similarly to how you would conduct Right to Work checks on any non-UK employees. If you employ someone with pre-settled status, remember that they must re-apply for settled status once they have amassed five years of residence in the UK to remain in the country.  Otherwise, their pre-settled status will expire after five years.

The UK’s new immigration policy and how it could affect recruitment

From 1st January 2021, a new points-based immigration system will come into play in Britain. After this, anyone wishing to enter the UK from any other country will need to acquire 70 points. Fifty of these points will come from mandatory requirements, including having a job offer of an appropriate skill level and of at least £20,480 in salary, approved by a sponsor, and being able to speak English at an intermediate level. The additional 20 points can come from a range of characteristics, including having a job offer over £25,600, having a PhD or filling a skills shortage in a particular sector.

So, to recruit employees from abroad, you must make sure that they meet the mandatory requirements and that any job offer you provide allows them to clear the 70-point benchmark needed for them to enter the country. Any job you provide must reach a minimum skill level of A-Level or equivalent, though the worker does not need to have a formal qualification to fill it.

You need to provide a minimum salary of £20,480 (which should also be at least 80% of the going rate for that profession). Some sectors, like health, may be exempt from this.

If your business has traditionally relied on imported, unskilled labour, you may find it hard to do so moving forward. If your company utilises seasonal labour from abroad, you may again find that these opportunities become limited to specific sectors, such as agriculture.

The changes in immigration mean it is essential to plan any roles in your company so that they meet the right criteria and can allow you to bring talent in from abroad. The government have disclosed that, while mandatory requirements will not change for anyone entering the UK, the other scoring factors may adapt in line with economic needs and skills shortages. So, it is also worth keeping track of any changes and how they could impact your recruitment.

Since the vote for the UK leaving the EU in June 2016, data has shown that migration from the EU to the UK has declined to its lowest level in recent years.

The fall in EU immigration has seen many sectors fear skills shortages in their operations. However, RoW immigration is now at its highest level, and migration into the UK in general has increased since 2016.  This means that RoW citizens may be able to address the gaps left by declining EU immigration.

Plus, with the UK no longer part of the EU single market and therefore no longer being subject to the free movement of people within the market, there will no longer be as much of a distinction between EU labour in comparison to labour from anywhere else in the world.

As a result, if your company has historically recruited labour from EU citizens, you may find that this evolves to encompass more RoW citizens instead. However, this will give you a wider pool of talent to search through when recruiting, which could help you to attract new skills to your business.

Get advice

There is much to consider about your future recruitment in line with the UK’s international development and changes to immigration policy. However, as a result, your business has the opportunity to target labour from across the world – providing you can offer the right roles to attract candidates and allow them to enter the country.

When planning any upcoming vacancies in your company, it is therefore vital to consider the requirements of the skills-based system and changing migration patterns to make sure you are creating the right roles for both your business and the individuals you wish to hire.

If you need advice on how to prepare your business, including future-proofing your employment and recruitment strategies, we can help. We provide free advice tailored to your needs so that you make sure you are ready for any challenges that may come your way once the UK leaves the EU.

Get in touch today.