Opaque Clarity from the Home Office on EU nationals working in the UK
Just to add to the turmoil surrounding Brexit the immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, was contradicted by Sajid Javid, the home secretary, when he announced that employers would have a transition period before having to make immigration checks in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The home secretary’s comments were supported by Downing Street. It is unclear how and from where the misinformation that Caroline Nokes delivered arose but what is certain that navigating Brexit is sufficiently challenging without misleading statements being made by government ministers.
Despite a “grace” period being permitted before employers will be obliged to make immigration checks, employers will still need work out how they will be able to sort the new-comers from the EU nationals already in the UK. There is no registration system for EU nationals on arrival in the UK which may leave some EU nationals struggling to demonstrate the length of time they have been in the UK and that they have the right to apply for settled status.
The lack of registration for EU nationals poses a problem for all parties. The Institute of Directors (IoD) director general wrote to the Saijd Javid, the Home Secretary, demanding “comprehensive clarity on the procedure employers would have to follow in this scenario, in the form of public written guidance”. The Government suggests that EU nationals can use their passports to demonstrate their right to apply for settled status. Many employers and EU nationals consider this a far from satisfactory answer. The lack of clarity and misleading statements arising from the ministers is very likely to cause EU nationals great concern and will threaten their confidence and trust that their interests will be protected. Without a proper plan that is in the public domain and can be scrutinised by employers and employees alike statements such as “We will protect EU citizens’ rights when we leave the EU, in either a deal or no-deal scenario, as the prime minister has made clear. We are considering a number of options for the unlikely event that we reach March 2019 without a deal, and will set out more information shortly” emanating from the Home Office are meaningless.
The lawyers at Giambrone feel that the situation could very easily result in a level of discrimination being delivered to EU nationals by some employers who are not keen to take on the additional procedures when recruiting. Also, the industry sectors that heavily rely on EU nationals in their workforce such as hospitality, finance and banking, NHS and agriculture are already finding it harder to recruit from the EU as understandably workers want certainty not vagueness and ambiguity when they take the step of seeking work in a foreign country.
All the UK business organisations are clamouring for information from the Home Office, the Confederation of British Industries (CBI), the IoD, Trade Unions and the Chambers of Commerce all have lobbied on behalf of their members.
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