UK businesses are finding it more difficult to meet their staffing needs after Brexit, according to the latest CBI Employment Trends survey. And they are starting to look nervously over their shoulders at the new paperwork required from New Year when the UK finally introduces full Border Controls.
As the chart shows, the number of EU nationals employed in the UK has seen a 14% fall since Brexit took place last year. This compares to just a 1% fall for UK nationals. And it reflects a number of different factors:
- Many EU workers went home during the pandemic, and haven’t yet come back
- Many were employed in low wage parts of the economy, and so don’t qualify to work in the UK under the new post-Brexit rules
- Others were people like HGV drivers, who now prefer to work in the EU27 and avoid the delays caused by the introduction of EU Border Controls
- And any business waning to employ an EU/EEA citizen in the UK now has to formally check their status under the EU Settlement Scheme
In addition, as the CBI report also notes, nearly 2/3rds of companies are worried about their ability to move UK workers across the EU. Before Brexit, the Single Market meant their employees could work anywhere in the EU. But now, as the House of Lords has noted:
“UK business travellers are subject to the different regulatory regimes of each Member State. Likewise, EU business travellers are subject to the visa requirements specified in the UK’s immigration rules.”
And from January, a new set of bureaucracy will come into force as the UK introduces its own Border Controls. As the government notes, this means:
- “Full Customs Declarations and controls will be introduced on 1 January 2022 as previously announced
- “Pre-notification requirements of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods, which were due to be introduced on 01 October 2021, will now be introduced on 01 January 2022”
One key issue is that companies will now need to keep careful track of their ability to qualify under the Trade & Co-Operation Agreement for zero tariffs and zero quota arrangements for UK-EU trade. This means meeting all the new rules covering Rules of Origin, and being able to produce all the detailed paperwork needed to prove this entitlement. Please click here if you would like to learn more about the Rules of Origin issue.
Another ‘sting in the tail’ is that many traders haven’t realised they have needed to prove detailed compliance with Rules of Origin since January this year. As the government warns:
“For goods imported between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021, traders have up to 175 days to complete Customs Declarations. From 1 January 2022, if a supplier’s Declaration is needed, businesses must hold these at the time they issue a statement on origin. They should also have obtained them, or other information demonstrating the originating status of their goods, for any statements on origin they’ve issued during the easement period from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021. If UK exporters don’t have this information, then if subject to verification by the importing Customs authority, their EU customer may have their preference claim denied.”