A major concern for businesses in light of Brexit is what will happen to EU workers currently working in Britain.
Throughout the campaign, immigration was a key concern to most individuals. A number of key figures were adamant that they did not want the freedom of movement of EU citizens moving forward. However, the reality is that this current freedom of movement may not change even following the Brexit.
It will, most certainly, form part of the negotiations and if Britain wants to continue enjoying free trade with the EU, Britain may have no option but to continue to allow the free movement of people. Indeed, in a number of models, such as Norway and Switzerland, they have had to agree to the free movement of people in order to benefit from any trade provisions with the EU at all.
There is some discussion already that any changes will not be retrospective and that those workers already with an NI number will be entitled to stay. However, that is speculation at this stage and only deals with the medium term following any Brexit.
What we must not forget of course, is the reason why there are so many EU workers in Britain in the first place – because certain jobs are not being filled by British workers. Indeed, the need for non-British workers will always be there.
Bear in mind also, that in reaching a big decision about EU workers already living and working in Britain, the Government will also have to consider those British people living and working in other EU countries.
In any event, if there is a shortage of low skilled workers (which there would be), the immigration system will have to deal with the shortages accordingly. A visa system for low skilled workers is unlikely to be effective. Alternative arrangement will, therefore, have to be made. What we may also see is an increase in workers from countries outside of the EU.
For now, it is simply a case of ‘watch this space’.