At the time of writing, Brexit is still throwing up potential challenges for Devon businesses. A key concern is how Brexit could alter the supply of labour, especially if the freedom of movement of workers within the EU – an enshrined and fundamental principle of EU law – is taken away.
Local businesses can currently look for and employ without permission workers from across the EU in any industry. After Brexit or a transitional period, employers may need to seek permission from UK authorities to employ EU workers, unless freedom of movement is retained in any final deal with Europe.
Without free movement, the position could become more akin to that for non-EU nationals wanting to work here, who generally need prior permission (a visa) to enter the UK to work. At present, local firms wanting to employ them often need to obtain a work permit first and to demonstrate as part of the application process that they cannot find British or EU workers to fill the role, unless it meets the criteria for a “shortage occupation”.
If these principles are applied to EU nationals post-Brexit, Devon firms could potentially see further skills shortages – for example, in seasonal agricultural workers – unless the Government addresses the issue of visa criteria. Employers who have relied on overseas workers should start considering contingency plans now.
To discuss any employment law issues, contact Julian Parry, Partner at Beers LLP on 01752 246011 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.