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Freedom of movement: what will happen after Brexit?

Freedom of movement is one of the most debated subjects surrounding Brexit especially in the recruitment sector, so how will things change when the transition period ends on December 31, 2020.

Marie
14/12/2020

Freedom of movement is one of the most debated subjects surrounding Brexit especially in the recruitment sector, so how will things change when the transition period ends on December 31, 2020.

One of the fundamental principles of the European Union (EU), freedom of movement legislation ensures that citizens can work in another EU country (without a permit) and enjoy the same rights and conditions as native citizens. When their employment finishes, they also have the right to stay in their new country.

What will change on January 1, 2021?

Deal or no deal, the UK Government has announced its intention to replace the current arrangement with an Australian-style points system.

Essentially, the new procedure will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally, while still aiming to attract the brightest people to contribute to the UK economy. Irish nationals will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now.

How will the points system work?

The new Skilled Worker and the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visas will replace the existing employer-sponsored visas for non-EEA nationals (EU citizens and those in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

Employers who do not hold a sponsor licence must apply now if they wish to sponsor EEA and non-EEA nationals from January 1, 2021. Employers holding a licence should review their circumstances and make any adjustments.

Any position offered to non-UK workers must carry a skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to an A-level). Furthermore, workers must speak English and secure a salary from a sponsor above a threshold of £25,600, or the going rate for the job, whichever is higher.

Workers earning less than the threshold, but no less than £20,480, can still apply for UK jobs by trading points against their salary. For example, occupations which have a skills shortage will be worth more points (i.e. science, engineering or medical roles).

EEA citizens who are working in the UK must apply to stay in the UK after December 31, 2020. They have until June 30, 2021 to make an application.

How can you prepare?

The exact ramifications for recruitment agencies remain unclear, but anyone moving candidates across the UK border will need to be prepared for changes. Opening an office in the EU, is just one way that businesses are hoping to continue trading on the continent without incurring piles of extra paperwork.

Agencies need to help their clients to review their requirements, and how they will access and attract the necessary people with the right skills. The changes to the UK labour market could impact a company’s medium and long-term business goals.

Want can you do?

We have been working with clients to assess the impact of the end of the current freedom of movement arrangements following Brexit. The key thing is to be prepared for any changes and to keep abreast of the situation as the UK exits the transition period.

If you have any questions surrounding the labour market in a post-Brexit Britain, the UHY Hacker Young Recruitment Business team are always on hand. We are specialist accountants who offer recruitment and employment businesses dedicated expertise in area such as accounting, finance, taxation and business growth.

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