Bringing EU Talent to the UK Post-Brexit – Livingston James and Brodies LLP

Amid the chaos of the pandemic and resulting lockdowns, January 2021 brought with it the Brexit deadline, at watershed moment that has concerned many business leaders for a number of years.  Regardless of business size or industry, Brexit has delivered a degree of uncertainty for leaders, not least in how to access talent pools from within the European Union.

To examine the impact of the end of ‘freedom of movement’ more closely, Livingston James collaborated with Elaine McIlroy, Partner in Immigration law at Brodies LLP to host a virtual event looking at the current process of bringing international talent into the UK.

With delegates joining us from UK Food and Drink, Manufacturing and Engineering, and Not for Profit sectors, it appears that for many sectors, ensuring that new and enhanced processes are fully compliant prior to hiring out with the UK is high on the agenda.

Key discussion points included:

  • Background to the new points-based system
  • The EU settlement scheme and Frontier Work permits
  • The new Graduate Work visa
  • Changes resulting from Right to Work checks

Elaine advised on the new minimum salary expectations, costs of being a licenced sponsor, the process after sponsorship, the key implications of the new rules, costs to both parties, routes to consider including the new graduate route, and how to prevent illegal working.

From the resulting discussions it became clear that there are many complexities associated with bringing international talent into the UK. Businesses might assume that with so many working from home during the pandemic, it would be acceptable to have employees work from anywhere in the world remotely. Unfortunately, it is not that simple, with potential tax and employment law challenges, data processing, and pensions legislation to be considered. Businesses will need to examine the employment laws of that specific country and appoint any remote hires on an individually researched basis.

It has also been noted that the process of sponsorship has put companies off accessing EU talent due to the expense of licenses, in addition to the cost of applying for visas deterring talented people from applying to UK businesses. Both factors could ultimately reduce the pool of talent on offer. With ‘hard to appoint’ roles, the option of hiring European talent has often helped businesses to scale up so this is an area which will need focus.

With some of the changes noted, it is worthwhile business leaders acting now and focusing on taking the right legal advice on sponsorship licences, prepare early, examine the possibility of upskilling where possible, ensure that the company brand, purpose, and values are on point to attract the best talent available, and plan for demand and growth.

Livingston James would like to take this opportunity to thank Elaine McIlroy of Brodies for her highly engaging and well-presented insight into a complex and topical matter.

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