Although it seems like Brexit has been occupying our minds for a lifetime, it has finally happened and has brought with it changes to immigration law that businesses need to be aware of.
What do the new immigration rules mean for recruitment?
With Brexit marking the end of freedom of movement in the EU, employees from overseas need to apply for advance permission to work in the UK if they are from outside the UK or Ireland and they have to meet certain requirements. As we wrote about in our last blog, The Skilled Worker visa has now replaced the Tier 2 (General)work visa and staff from abroad must have meet 70 points to join an employer in the UK.
Employers must ensure candidates meet all of these requirements when taking on new employees from the EU and they now require a sponsor licence to take on staff from anywhere outside the UK and Ireland.
What is modern slavery?
Simply put, modern slavery is the exploitation of people for the gain of somebody else.
Whilst part of the EU, the UK was part of many bodies who support EU members to prevent human trafficking, money laundering and fraud. By leaving the EU, the UK no longer has the same support with anti-trafficking operations, and it is feared that the UK’s new immigration laws may cause an increase in low-paid workers being exploited by criminals, leading to abuse and coercion.
In the wake of Brexit, the Government intends to strengthen the Modern Slavery Act (MSA) 2015 which covers four activities; slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking. Proposed changes are to tighten business requirements in regard to modern slavery and introduce penalties for any that do not meet these requirements.
Why do I need to be aware of modern slavery as an employer?
Modern slavery is happening all over the UK and it isn’t always as obvious as we would believe. More than ever, businesses need to be aware of how their employees are hire. Particularly with roles within the gig economy there is a danger of workers being trafficked to the UK so there has never been a better time to audit your business processes (and those of any external agencies) and educate your staff on the issue of modern slavery.
There will also be EU citizens who have chosen to stay in the UK post-Brexit and may not know their legal rights now things have changed, making them vulnerable to exploitation. It is easy to assume modern slavery only occurs in certain industries and although it is more prominent in manual labour jobs on construction sites or within agriculture or hospitality, it is an issue all businesses need to take responsibility for. The consequences of getting these things wrong is not only a huge human cost but can mean fines for business or even criminal and civil penalties.
How can we help?
At CoLaw we are here to help with any queries or concerns you may have about your own compliance, or that of your employees.
Speak to one of our friendly team members for more advice and support.
The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.