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15 June 2018

What should SME’s be doing RIGHT NOW to prepare for Brexit?

There remains a great deal of uncertainty for EU nationals about their status in a post Brexit UK. This uncertainty centres around the lack of information around how EU Nationals will achieve the proposed “settled status” in the UK.

The message from the Government remains that EU nationals do not need to do “anything now” regarding their status, but the continued absence of any guidance on the process for obtaining settled status (or even a time line for when such guidance will be issued) continues to leave EU nationals in limbo about their future.

This is having a knock on effect across the economy, particularly for SMEs who employ (and heavily rely on) EU workers. As a minimum, SME’s should carry out an audit on the immigration status of their workers now to identify who may be caught by any new immigration controls and, in turn, which of those workers would be eligible to apply for settled status.

Having a plan in place to assist and hopefully protect those employees will help to show that they are valued which, in turn, will help them to maintain a robust and settled workforce who will continue to contribute to the growth and productivity of your business.

If companies that rely heavily on EU workers do not have a contingency plan in place to help EU workers remain in the UK, there is a very real possibility that there will be fewer people to do their jobs -  in the short term at least. Even now, EU migration is consistently fallen since the referendum and EU migration to the UK is down to its lowest level in five years. This is not surprising as potential EU workers have no certainty about their future and UK based EU nationals decide to leave as they no longer feel welcome.

Whether it's a feeling that EU citizens aren't wanted in the UK or uncertainty about their future, there has been a noticeable shift from EU nationals coming to or staying in the UK. Employers could mitigate the risk this poses to them by engaging with them about the future, reiterating that they will support them with any new system that is implemented and informing them about their rights.

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