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Staff shortages in sectors such as hospitality and leisure could reach crisis levels following the June 30th deadline, after which it will become more difficult to hire EU workers, says Bates Wells, the City law firm.

Hospitality and leisure have experienced severe labour shortages since the sector reopened following lockdown. This is due in part to workers from overseas leaving the UK to return to their home countries either because of Brexit or the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently there are no provisions for low-skilled workers under the new points-based immigration system. As a result, it will be extremely difficult to hire non-British/Irish nationals or EU workers who don’t already have the right to work after the grace period elapses on June 30th.

Chetal Patel, Partner at Bates Wells says: “The June 30th deadline will create enormous problems for businesses in the hospitality and leisure sectors. These businesses are already seeing severe labour shortages. This is set to get significantly worse.”

“EEA workers comprise 7.3% of the UK’s working population. There are entire industry sectors that are wholly dependent on labour from these countries.”

“The Home Office should consider offering a temporary covid-recovery visa, enabling businesses to hire overseas workers to fill vacancies and help to get the economy back on its feet after the devastating impact of lockdown.”

“Many employers would like this June 30th deadline to be put off until the economy is back on track.”

Employers hit with extra costs hiring non-British candidates on work experience

After the Brexit grace period elapses, businesses may need to register as an Employer under the T5 Intern scheme in order to offer work experience to EEA nationals. With a £750 fee per candidate, Bates Wells says this will create additional financial and administrative burdens, particularly on small and medium businesses. EEA nationals who want to come to the UK to do work experience will need to pay a fee of £189 or £244, depending on which country they are from. 

Chetal Patel adds: “We’ve seen a spike in queries from businesses looking to offer paid work experience to EEA or Swiss nationals from 1 July.  The post Brexit era has made this more difficult and businesses now have to incur additional costs and go through the headache of exploring what options are left on the table.  

“Given the UK’s shortages in digital skills, the Government should be considering how it can help businesses train up young aspiring workers, rather than putting obstacles in place.”