Leaked document proposes restrictions on low-skilled EU workers

A draft Home Office document leaked to The Guardian newspaper makes a number of proposals that could negatively affect employment of EU nationals in horticulture.

Image: David Anstiss (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Image: David Anstiss (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The untitled and unattributed document, dated last month and marked "Draft Official - Sensitive", proposed that EU nationals seeking work in the UK following Brexit in June 2019 must gain a residence permit, subject to proof of employment and criminal checks.

During the so-called Implementation Period, lasting two years from the official date of Brexit, "we propose that EU citizens will be able to work [...] for their first few months in the UK without prior permission from the Home Office", though the number of months has yet to be determined, it said.

But such permits will only be for a restricted period, which will be shorter for low-skill workers, it added, stating: "We are minded to grant those in highly-skilled occupations a permit lasting three to five years. For those in other occupations, it may be up to two years."

In another proposed restriction, "We may require employers to recruit locally first, or we may restrict access to occupations that are not in shortage, particularly non-highly skilled occupations," it said.

Further proposals include:

  • an economic needs test that employers must complete to check whether suitable recruits can be found locally before hiring an EU citizen;
  • a requirement for EU citizens to demonstrate proof of a job prior to entering the UK;
  • reducing the opportunity for workers to settle long-term in the UK and bring their dependants, especially at lower-skill levels;
  • a cap on the number of EU citizens able to come to the UK to undertake low-skilled work, which "could be combined with the option of a scheme for temporary or seasonal workers depending on the industry".


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