Since Britain voted out of the EU in June 2016, we have always maintained the view that until told otherwise very little will change for EU/UK relations until the exit negotiations conclude.
The first pre-Brexit change could be implemented after the election after the Conservatives announced plans to cut net migration to fewer than 100,000 people per year – a 60% reduction on current levels.
How does this impact employers you ask? Well, contrary to public perception, most immigration controls aren’t done via strict border patrols and visa systems. The UK actually has a very relaxed approach to visas, with many visitors from nations outside the EU not requiring one for the first 6 months of residency.
Therefore, it is unlikely a strict visa system will be used to migrants from the EU. Instead, the burden of kerb immigration will fall on the employer. Recruiters, not border guards will be the real gatekeepers. It is likely that the same right to work checks and levies will apply to EU and non-EU migrants meaning the time and financial cost of recruiting EU migrants will greatly increase in a bid to change recruiter habits. The Tories have already proposed doubling the levy for employing non-EU migrants and this could also apply to EU migrants as well post-Brexit.
From speaking with Clients, it seems this could create a skills/labour shortage in some industries. However, it does represent an opportunity for the British worker, who will be more desirable to many employers due to the low recruitment cost. Whilst this does pose a productivity gap in the short term it could result in the long-term boost to British productivity if the skill shortage is addressed through learning and development.
On the flipside, it seems most other parties want EU migrants to retain their freedom of movement meaning that very little would change in terms of recruiting from the EU in post-Brexit Britain.