This article is part of our Brexit Survival Guide: Practical Tips for Hospitality Businesses series, and is written by Jonathan Gray, who leads the hospitality team at Pitmans Law firm.
The hospitality sector is very reliant on EU (non UK) employees. However, Brexit has not improved the perception of the UK as a welcoming destination for EU migrant workers. As an employer of EU employees, it is crucial that you counter this wider perception.
EU migrant workers may also be worried about their right to live and work in the UK after Brexit happens. What you don’t want to do is single EU migrant workers out, where they feel at risk, possibly because they take the view that you may not want to continue to employ them due to their immigration status.
The best way to raise the issue is to offer an advice forum that they can take up with you if they want to.
This would primarily be to provide guidance on how they can secure their right to remain and work in the UK. The current position from the UK government is that if, by 31 December 2020, they have been continuously and lawfully living in the UK for 5 years, they will be able to apply to stay indefinitely by getting ‘settled status’. That means they will be free to live here, have access to public funds and services and go on to apply for British citizenship.
Applying for confirmation of ‘settled status’ is also to be made more straightforward than current processes. For example, the government plans to develop an application system which draws on existing government data, for example, employment records held by HMRC, which will evidence work history in the UK and significantly reduce the amount of evidence an applicant needs to supply. The fee for applying for settled status will be no more than the cost of applying for a British passport in the UK. If you, the employer, provide this sort of information in a constructive way it will hopefully put minds at rest.
As a general good practice point you may also want to consider providing company wide refresher training on your equality policies, to highlight that any forms of discrimination, including those relating to race and origin, will not be tolerated.