EU Workers After Brexit

Mar 22, 2017

The historic decision for Britain to leave the EU (aka Brexit) has been the cause of a lot of debate, both inside and outside the Houses of Parliament. While some businesses believe that this could lead to improvements with a decrease in red tape and the weakening of the pound improving the prospects for exports there is the concern about what will happen to the millions of EU workers based in the UK and how they could potentially be affected by Brexit.

Equally this is a concern to employers who will be worried about whether or not their current employees will be allowed to stay and how easily they will be able to attract them in future. In this article, we are going look at what we know so far and what could potentially happen to EU workers after Article 50 (the process triggering the formal start of the Brexit negotiations) takes place.


Employers are worried about the opening of an employment gap that could potentially occur as a result of Brexit- in the construction industry it is estimated that as many as 175,000 workers could be lost as a result of not staying in the single market while in the restaurant industry companies such as Pret A Manger have estimated that it could take as long as ten years to fill the gap left by departing EU workers.


big aspect of whether or not EU workers will have a right to stay will depend on the deal that is negotiated by the British government with the EU. At the moment, it is estimated that there are 1.73 million EU nationals currently in the UK and over 75% of them are all currently employed (it should also be noted it works the other way too with 2.2 million British people living in other EU countries).


Recently the House of Lords called for an amendment to the “Brexit Bill” asking that the rights of EU workers currently in the UK be protected. This may not necessarily go through as the government has promised to drop this amendment should the vote go through.


The loss of employees is not just a challenge in terms of having to fill the vacancies it could potentially be a threat due to a slowdown in growth. It makes sense- the time spent working on improving infrastructure could potentially be at threat if there is a slowdown when it comes to the skills gap.

Watch this space

Of course, it is important to emphasise that there is still some uncertainty on what Brexit will entail- it may well be that any fears regarding recruitment are unfounded or that a deal will be struck that is an effective compromise between getting necessary recruitment while at the same time addressing concerns regarding immigration.

In short while it can be hard to specifically guarantee whether or not EU workers will be able to retain their rights in the UK or how will they be affected should they be allowed to stay. What follows with the negotiations over the next couple of years should prove interesting.


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