UK manufacturers seek clarity over EU worker rights29/08/17Government
Manufacturers in the UK have warned of a recruitment crisis if they are unable to continue hiring EU workers after Brexit.
The manufacturers’ organisation (EEF) says the government must clarify the rights of EU workers ‘as a matter of urgency’.
It said a quarter of the 243 firms it surveyed had already seen an increase in EU nationals leaving their business.
A government spokesperson said it would outline its initial proposals for a post-Brexit immigration system in the autumn.
The spokesperson said: “We have already been clear there will be an implementation period after we leave the EU to avoid a cliff edge for businesses.
“In June we published our offer to protect the rights of EU citizens in the UK, confirming no-one living here lawfully will be asked to leave when we exit the EU and they will have a grace period to regularise their status.”
Two thirds of firms hire EU nationals due to insufficient UK applicants and one-third because they cannot get the skills needed in the UK, the EEF’s survey found.
EEF director of employment and skills Tim Thomas said preventing the industry from recruiting skilled EU workers could “stifle growth and damage British industry and the UK economy as a whole”.
“As a priority the government should clarify the reciprocal rights of EU nationals in the UK and British nationals currently working in other EU member states,” he added.
The EEF is calling for European employees to be able to come and work in the UK for up to five years post-Brexit, with them then having the right to apply for permanent residency.
It also wants UK firms to continue to have access to EU workers as part of internal company transfer programmes.
The EEF said the manufacturers it had surveyed said they needed unfettered access to ‘appropriate workers’.
The third round of Brexit talks is currently taking place in Brussels, Belgium.