As the deadline for Brexit comes ever closer, UK businesses become more nervous about what it may mean for them. With current chaos around the deal that the UK may go for and what a no-deal Brexit would mean if not, it’s no wonder that around 61% of UK employers are worried about what could happen.
One key area that many will want clarity on is how it could affect the way that they recruit staff. This could certainly be impacted on in terms of any EU staff that companies employ or may wish to recruit post-Brexit. Just what are the possible ways that Brexit could hinder recruitment for UK businesses?
Brexit could have a significant impact on recruitment
While it is important not to get too down-hearted about the business landscape post-Brexit, it certainly seems that it will throw up a few challenges, as below:
- Lack of people to hire – perhaps the biggest consequence for recruitment is that there will simply not be enough workers around to take on. 44% of recruiters have already reported that they think working in the UK is less attractive now to EU citizens. If the Brexit deal we get (or do not get) makes travelling and working in the UK harder than at present, this feeling will only grow. With EU citizens also leaving in the wake of Brexit, it could leave the number of people for UK businesses to hire dangerously low.
- Not enough skilled workers available – as well as the drop in available workers, there is also the fear of a real skills shortage afterwards. Already, sectors such as aviation have flagged this up, and the exodus of skilled EU workers with no UK talent ready to replace them could really hit home. Many of the skills that our most important industries rely on come via EU workers, and this is something that could prove problematic for businesses needing to hire after Brexit.
- Harder to convince top talent to work in the UK – as noted above, Brexit has already begun to deter workers from coming to the UK. The fear that some business leaders have is that this could prevent top talent from across the whole world from deciding to work in the UK. If international workers do not feel welcome, then finding the best people to recruit could be tricky.
- Additional time and resources to recruit non-UK workers – of course, no one knows the deal that the UK will have for sure yet. One scenario that does look likely, however, is that from July 2021, EU citizens entering the UK and any family members who live with them must hold or be applying for immigration status to work legally here. This change could present a barrier to recruiting the skilled workers needed and put additional pressure on businesses in the UK.
- Settled status registration – a piece of legislation that will affect EU workers currently in the UK post-Brexit is applying for settled status. This will be needed to continue living and working in the UK after we have left the EU. This process and the supporting tech are only in the testing phase though and so could prove a nightmare for UK businesses with any EU staff.
What can UK businesses do to guard against the above? Firstly, take the pressure off having to recruit for lost EU staff by ensuring that they apply for settled status when they can. It may also be worth thinking about scouring the UK job market for the best home-grown talent if needed while also recruiting from other, non-EU countries if possible.
What if your business uses contractors?
Many UK businesses will use contractors now and hire them for short-term jobs or one-off specialist projects. As with the whole of Brexit, how contractors may be affected and what this could mean for recruitment is not overly clear right now. While your business may still be able to employ EU citizens or recruit internationally, there could be changes to how they are paid or the contributions they should make to HMRC, for example. Many UK businesses would be well advised to use an umbrella company to protect them in this regard. The umbrella company will have expert staff to process contractors’ payroll and keep up to date with any fresh post-Brexit changes to legislation. This means that you will not have the worry or hassle of doing so yourself.
Brexit continues to cause doubt
With less than six months until Brexit happens, the impact on business and recruitment is already being felt. With the financial markets already seeing the influence it has, finding staff with the skills you need and who can legally work could be the next big challenge for UK companies. Of course, it will all be much easier to work through when we know what is happening for sure!