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Brexit – how can UK employers retain their EU staff

We find ourselves facing an uncertain future in the lead up to the UK finally leaving the EU. According to the Office for National Statistics there are 2.28 million EU citizens living and working in the UK and many are understandably anxious and feeling insecure about their future.
Retain EU workers after Brexit

Could the UK face critical staff shortages as a result of Brexit?

There is a real concern that many industries will lose talented, hard-working and loyal EU workers and face staff shortages as a result of Brexit. According to UK Hospitality, an estimated 15% of workers in the British Hospitality sector are from the EU – that’s approximately 700,000 people. In a survey by Planday conducted by YouGov, 53% of EU workers in the UK think that Brexit has made the UK “a less welcoming place to live and work” and 11% of workers are considering leaving the UK as a result. In London’s 8 main NHS hospitals they rely heavily on EU workers with 20% of all nurses coming from the EU. According to the Financial Times, the NHS is going through a staffing and funding crisis and Brexit is only making it worse. And let’s not forget the large number of EU workers in the manufacturing and retail industries.

What can UK employers do to retain their EU staff?

Some UK employers are trying to provide reassurance and certainty to their EU workforce by funding the £65 application fee to apply for “settled status” and Unison recently published guidance for public sector employers looking to financially support their staff. Carluccio’s Restaurant Group this week announced that it would pay for its 1,550 non-British EU employees to apply for “settled status” in the UK after Brexit. Mark Jones, CEO, says “We appreciate that the current political landscape is unsettling for many of our employees and we want to do everything we can to reassure them that they are part of Carluccio’s famiglia”. Heathrow Airport and Oxford University also recently announced such funding.

We must remember that employees are at the heart of every business and HR teams must work hard to retain them.

Here is more advice from Personnel Today to help HR Professionals support their EU workers:

  1. Identify any EU nationals who work for the company and inform them of the process for applying. More information on the application process can be found here . Ensure they have up-to-date information. It is crucial that businesses engage with their staff to provide reassurance to staff who are worried about what Brexit will mean for them and their families.
  2. Consider the different groupings of individuals such as Irish nationals, EU nationals and UK nationals in the EU. Design separate communications for each group.
  3. Take care with EU national employees who are currently on or contemplating going on assignment outside the UK as this could affect their eligibility.
  4. Be alive to the possibility of a no deal Brexit scenario and ensure you understand the risks and develop contingencies.
  5. Offer additional benefits to EU employees to show you want to invest in them and keep them in the UK such as offering English lessons – this is a benefit to them and it will also improve communication within your company. Read how Hawksmoor Restaurant Group are supporting their staff with English lessons.

If you would like to arrange English lessons for your international employees then please contact us on +44 (0) 203 036 0760 or email us on info@languagetraining.com