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EEA workers in the UK: interim update

27 March 2018 McGill & Co Solicitors EEA Applications

overseas representative visaAs outlined in our posting on August 16 2017, last summer the Government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee to assess and report on the current likely future patterns of EEA migration and the impacts of that migration on the UK after Brexit. After hearing evidence, including that of McGill & Co, the Committee has now published a summary of the some, but not all, of the responses in the interim MAC report. With the final report due to be delivered in September 2018, this article will summarise the findings of the Committee so far.

Are EEA workers more attractive employees?

According to the responses of over 400 businesses, industry bodies and Government bodies EEA migrants are viewed as more motivated, flexible and willing to work longer hours than the domestic labour force.

Employers suggest that UK businesses employ EEA migrants because they are the best possible applicants for the job, not because they are prepared to accept lower terms and conditions.

In response, MAC have stated that it is difficult to objectively assess these claims, but did refer to analysis suggesting that EEA migrant workers report lower absenteeism rates than UK-born employees. Furthermore, the Committee noted that those from newer EU member states seem to be lower paid than the domestic workforce, though that does not imply migration has suppressed the wages of the domestic workforce.

Experts said many firms in lower-skilled sectors have built a business model in which the ready availability of migrant labour from the continent played an important and ‘sometimes vital’ role. MAC chairman Professor Alan Manning said employers in all sectors are now ‘concerned about the prospects of future restrictions on EEA migration.’

Lower growth

In assessing the impact of these future restrictions, the analysis concluded that lower migration into the UK will ‘very likely lead to lower growth’, though the impact on living standards was ‘less clear.’

This report is likely to strengthen the hand of those in government pressing for a more cautious approach to curbing the number of EU migrants coming to Britain after Brexit. The Home Office, welcoming the report, said it is committed to 'controlled and sustainable migration' and said the evidence would be considered in the development of a new migration system which ‘works in the best interest of the whole of the UK.’

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