Perspective: UK Labour Immigration Post-Brexit: Local Authorities’ Experiences as Employers

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By Stuart Bain, Cosla

Migration Policy Scotland co-ordinated this event, hosted by COSLA, for Local Authority Human Resources practitioners at the sharp end of navigating the UK’s labour immigration rules following EU exit.

Led by Sarah Kyambi, Director, Migration Policy Scotland, the event was delivered virtually and was well attended with Heads of HR and senior HR practitioners from more than 25 Scottish Councils taking part. Sarah opened the session with an introduction and overview of the changing migration landscape in the UK. She covered the significant changes and the uncertainties caused by the altered status of millions of EU nationals living in the UK seeking “settled status” under the Government’s EU Settlement Scheme.  

Grace McGill, an Immigration Lawyer at Burness Paull and an experienced practitioner in immigration, nationality and refugee law, talked about the potential discrimination risks associated with nationality and right to work status. She explained how removal of the “resident labour market test” had unexpected consequences for employers who would not routinely consider foreign applicants for jobs. Her colleague Morag Hutchison, an expert in Employment Law, expanded on this with examples of how employers could go wrong and advice about how to avoid these risks.

Following this introduction, the remaining half of the session consisted of a lively and wide-ranging discussion led by Sarah, Grace, and Morag with HR practitioners sharing their experiences of using the sponsorship system and the issues they had encountered.

There was a shared view that recent changes in the right to work in the UK for foreign nationals have been presenting employers with new challenges in recruitment. It was interesting to participants to establish that while some councils are registered as sponsors to be able to sponsor non-UK citizens, other councils had not so far had the need to consider this. There was discussion about whether more employers would need to consider sponsorship to address recruitment pressures or because of greater numbers of applicants without a current right to work in the UK.

This was an interesting and informative event which participants found both helpful and enjoyable.     

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessaity reflect the position of Migration Policy Scotland.