New research released today by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) think-tank, in partnership with Adecco Group UK & Ireland, has revealed UK employers’ heavy reliance on employees from the EU.
The research comes ahead of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union on 23 June 2016, the outcome of which is likely to determine how UK employers will be able to access EU workers in the future. UK employers currently have access to workers in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens, who are permitted to seek work in any other country that is a member of the EU and the EEA. The EEA includes the EU as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Drawing on analysis of the Labour Force Survey (2015), the largest household survey in the UK of employment and unemployment, the research describes the jobs and characteristics of EEA and Swiss employees in the UK and reveals the extent to which UK employers have recruited from the EEA and Switzerland, especially in the private sector, in London and in sectors such as manufacturing.
In this press release, we use the terms “EU workers” and “EU employees” to refer to workers and employees from the EEA and Switzerland (excluding the UK).
Key findings from Working together: European workers in the UK economy show that:
This research raises serious questions about the potential impact of ‘Brexit’.
With 1.6m EU workers currently working in the UK, making up 6% of all UK employees, thousands of businesses could be left in limbo for years following a vote to leave.
Uncertainty is bad for business, particularly those looking to hire and invest in the future. The recruitment industry has seen a significant slowdown in the number of businesses looking to hire permanent staff as we draw nearer to the referendum.
Any change to the UK’s relationship with the EU could hinder UK businesses ability to attract the workforce needed for our industries.