Many employers unaware of post-Brexit visa rules

21 September 2019

Most employers in the UK are unaware of proposed changes to immigration rules that could make it more difficult to source lower-skilled workers after Brexit, a new report reveals.


The CIPD report A practical immigration system for post-Brexit Britain highlights that a lack of awareness of the Government immigration proposals among most employers, along with a lack of planning and the ongoing political uncertainty means few organisations are equipped to deal with a potential ‘supply shock’ of a reduced inflow of EU workers post-Brexit.

The research found that:

  • More than half of employers are completely in the dark about the Government’s immigration proposals, with 58% saying they don’t know anything about the Government’s white paper on immigration. Just 7% said they knew “a lot” and 35% said that they ‘know a little’ about it.
  • 56% of employers said they don’t have enough information to start making decisions about their post-Brexit recruitment strategy. Just one in four (27%) are happy to make decisions based on existing information.
  • More than half of employers (51%) felt that the Government’s planned 12-month temporary visa was either ‘not very useful’ or ‘not useful at all’. Just 1 in 4 employers (28%) said it would be useful to them to meet their recruitment needs, falling to 22% among public sector organisations.
  • The Government’s immigration white paper proposes introducing a minimum salary threshold of £30,000 for recruiting most non-UK nationals from 2021. However, when asked what minimum salary threshold would enable them to meet their skills and labour needs after Brexit, the most popular employer response was a threshold of £20,000 (16% of employers), followed by £30,000 (14%) and £25,000 (12%). 

The research also shows that since the referendum most employers’ efforts have been focused on retaining existing EU staff, rather than planning how to respond to imminent immigration restrictions. This may go some way to explaining why relatively few organisations report they have seen ‘Brexodus’ effect in their organisation yet, as they have been able to continue to access and retain EU workers fairly easily since the EU referendum.


The CIPD report makes a number of recommendations to avoid worst-case scenarios when the UK does leave the EU. These include extending the Youth Mobility Scheme for 18-30-year-olds to cover all EU citizens, allowing individuals to come to the UK for a maximum of two years without a job offer. It also suggests looking at specific occupations with skills shortages that can be exempted from any future salary cap.


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