Brexit Update

EU Rights and Seasonal Workers

Brexit Update – EU Rights and Seasonal Workers

Whatever your opinion on Brexit – there’s no doubt that it will mean huge changes for UK employers. This is especially true for those that currently employ large numbers of people from the EU and those that rely on seasonal workers.

With the negotiations now firmly underway, we’re starting to get some more clarity on the rights of EU citizens following Brexit. However, there are still a lot of questions when it comes to the future of seasonal workers, with some real concerns about a potential labour shortage in some industries.

In this post, we take a look at the details of the EU citizen agreement, then explore the latest stats relating to employment and seasonal workers, as well as some of the potential solutions being proposed.

Post Brexit Rights for EU Citizens in the UK

Last month, the EU Commission and UK made an agreement on the future rights of EU Citizens in the UK (and vice versa), designed to reassure the millions of people who live and work abroad.

It looks like good news for both the citizens, and employers in the UK.

The agreement included the following commitments:

  • EU citizens with a valid Permanent Residence Document will be able to have their status changed to settled, free of charge.
  • Professional qualifications gained in the EU before Brexit will continue to be recognised after the UK leaves the EU.
  • People will be able to leave the UK for up to 5 years without losing settled status.
  • Close family members will still be able to join citizens in the UK after Brexit. This includes spouses, long term partners, children, grandchildren, dependant parents and grandparents.
  • EU citizens that have paid into the UK system will benefit from their contributions, in terms of pensions and ongoing healthcare.

Essentially, it means that EU citizens living lawfully in the UK by March 29th 2019 will be able to stay and work in the country, and enjoy pretty much the same in terms of rights and benefits as they do now. The same is true for UK citizens living and working in the EU.

Full details of the agreement can be found at

UK employers don’t have to do anything special at this stage.

Employment stats and seasonal worker uncertainty

The most recent ONS employment statistics make for some interesting reading:

  • UK unemployment now stands at 4.3%, the joint lowest rate since 1975.
  • Employment is at a near record high, with 32.08 million people in work.
  • Currently, there are a record number of vacancies (nearly 800,000) in the UK economy
  • The number of people in employment is up 3 million since 2010

Whilst this is good news for employees, it does raise some concerns for those relying on seasonal workers, like those in the UK horticulture and the food and drink industry. There is real uncertainty about the future of seasonal workers in the UK after Brexit, including both those from the EU and beyond, and this is already having an impact.

In November 2017, the National Farming Union revealed a 29% shortfall in seasonal workers, and the British horticulture sector needs around 80,000 seasonal workers each year.

Potential solutions

One potential solution to the potential shortfall could come from the introduction of a new seasonal workers scheme, which would allow migration from the EU and other countries on short term 6 month visas.

We are still in the very early stages, with nothing decided as of yet. One idea would allow seasonal workers, but cap the number of migrants each year, with the number falling over time to reflect the decrease in need for workers as employees invest in new technology and automation systems.

At Prestige, we are monitoring the situation closely, and will update our clients as soon as there are any new developments.

Forward thinking recruitment support from Prestige

Prestige is here to help your business source the right candidates you need to achieve your commercial objectives, including both permanent, temporary and fixed term staff.

We keep on top of the latest legislation and developments when it comes to Brexit, seasonal working and migrant workers from across the EU and beyond. Maintaining the highest standards in everything we do, we hold ourselves to a standard of practice that far exceeds our regulatory obligations.

Whatever your requirements, you can appoint Prestige as your recruitment partner in the confidence you’ll benefit from reliable support, the right people and real value for money.

For additional information, updates or support, please contact your local office today.


Posted: Thu 18 Jan 2018
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