Bira has joined a number of associations writing to Andrea Leadsom, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, calling for greater clarity on what Brexit will mean for the UK workforce.
With many independent businesses relying heavily on foreign workers, the suggested £30,000 minimum salary threshold would seriously damage their ability to employ these workers.
The figure was published in June in the Government’s white paper on the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system.
The letter states: “Like many industries, we employ foreign workers in roles across the skill spectrum, as well as in temporary and seasonal roles. We would urge the Government to revise down the suggested £30,000 minimum salary threshold for skilled workers coming to the UK to enable our businesses to continue to thrive.
“We would also suggest that the proposed short-term route set out in the Immigration White Paper is extended to at least three years and allows migrants to switch to the skilled visa if eligible. This would ensure our industries are able to prosper and continue to grow.”
Andrew Goodacre, CEO of Bira said: “The uncertainty being caused by the Brexit turmoil is causing real concern for retailers in many ways. The task of retaining and recruiting employees in retail is already very difficult and the changes due to Brexit will make it even harder. We need a common-sense approach to support independent retail businesses.”
Meanwhile, a report in the Financial Times says that many employers are ‘simply not ready’ for post-Brexit immigration regime.
In a survey of more than 2,100 employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a representative body for HR professionals, 58% had no knowledge of government plans for a post-Brexit immigration system, as detailed in its white paper, and only 7% knew a lot about the proposals.
Just 17% had thoroughly assessed the impact that EU labour restrictions would have on their business and 56% felt they did not have enough information to plan their post-Brexit recruitment strategy.
“Employers are simply not ready for the introduction of new immigration restrictions,” the study concluded.
Gerwyn Davies, the CIPD’s public policy adviser, said political uncertainty meant businesses were taking a ‘wait-and-see approach’ to what is likely to be a significant drop in EU citizens coming to the UK after freedom of movement ends and a new immigration system is in place. The arrangements are scheduled to come into effect in January 2021.