What will be the effect of migration after Brexit? Lynn News columnist gives his views
They say that two things in life are inevitable – death and taxes – but a couple of other events are also imminent. Christmas and Brexit. The kids tell me that Christmas is definitely happening this year, Brexit seems a little less certain.
Should Brexit go ahead on March 29, freedom of movement of labour will be curtailed.
In fact, we are already seeing a reversal in the number of EU migrants in UK workplaces. EU net migration has fallen to the lowest level in almost six years, according to official figures.
The most likely explanation for this is a fall in the value of the pound relative to the Euro and other currencies' Brexit effect, which means that the UK is now less attractive as a destination for migrant workers.
Although there has been a slight increase in non-EU migrant workers, firms are already reporting labour shortages and challenges in recruiting people with the right skills.
Looking ahead, it is likely that the current points-based system for non-EU immigrants will be adopted for EU citizens from 2021. However, a third of employers who employ non-EU citizens, report that the administrative burden of using the points-based system is too great.
Possible responses from employers are an increased use in automation, robotics and artificial intelligence, and increased training and development of the local workforce to address skill shortages.
Some readers may remember when the UK joined the European Community in 1973. Since then UK has tended towards harmonisation with EU employment laws. For example, working time regulations (holiday entitlement and hours of work), health and safety regulations, data protection and GDPR.
The move towards greater employee protection and employment rights has included rights of part-time, fixed term and agency workers, protection from discrimination and family friendly policies has also been consistent with Europe.
It seems unlikely that there will be sweeping changes to UK employment legislation following Brexit, and recent indications are that we will continue to harmonise with EU rules and regulations.
Whatever happens, Human Capital Department will continue to advise employers on best practice people management and development, and we wish all readers a Happy Christmas and prosperous 2019.