Retaining migrant workers in uncertain times

10 May 2018

There is little doubt that the agricultural landscape, post-Brexit, will change significantly if the Government does not move to assure a future for EU land workers.

The referendum result caused immediate alarm within our rural communities, where essential work is carried out by an army of migrant workers. The land-owners will say that, without such availability of labour, the sector faces difficulties – some are already facing problems as workers leave in anticipation of March 2019.

In a transitional Brexit deal agreed this spring there was some hope offered – with an announcement that EU citizens who arrive during the period March 2019 to December 2020, will enjoy the same rights and guarantees as those who arrived before Brexit. This will have reassured many who rely on EU workers and follows an earlier ministerial pledge to seek a “flexible migration policy overall and post-Brexit”.

However uncertainty remains and as it does there is further action that individuals can take, which can be extended to businesses, acting on behalf of existing migrant employees who they want to retain in the longer-term.

The ‘Certificate of Permanent Residence’ is the European Economic Area national’s equivalent to Indefinite Leave to Remain, which EU residents can apply for if they have been in the UK for five years and are judged as a ‘qualified person’. A ‘qualified person’ is someone in any kind of employment or self-employed, or who is self-sufficient, a student or actively seeking work.

While it is impossible to say for sure that this certificate will allow a person to stay, it is about as definite a guarantee as you can get!

A business determined to keep its workforce, could apply for these certificates on behalf of employees, helping to secure their right to remain, and work here. Home Office approval however is currently taking six months.


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