No automatic right for EU citizens to work in the UK post Brexit

In a recent statement the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, has ended debates around the continuation of freedom of movement after the UK leaves the EU. At a recent congregation of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Javid stated “There will be a complete, total end to freedom of movement…no back-door version of that, freedom of movement will end”.

Whilst further overarching rules on immigration have yet to be confirmed, this announcement is the clearest indication so far that the ability of a large number of EU citizens to move to the UK will be significantly reduced after the transition period.

Announcements, made last month, centred around the government’s plans to allow EU nationals already working in the UK to apply for settled status, thereby granting them the right legally remain in the UK from 1st July 2021.  Whilst this provided some comfort to employers whose workforce currently contains a large number of EU workers, the Home Secretary’s most recent declaration adds uncertainty around the future availability of unskilled EU labour.

It is believed that a new Immigration Bill will be coming in 2019, which will confirm in detail the arrangements for UK organisations to employ EU nationals in the future.  In the meantime, businesses who currently rely heavily on unskilled EU workers are advised to keep a close eye on further developments.

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