FTA – companies will have to check their EU workers’ status

There is no system in place to check the right of work for EU nationals, says the FTA. This would therefore fall into the hands of the freight and logistics industry to avoid prosecution and removal of illegal workers.

The FTA’s discovery follows from evidence that was presented by the minister of state for immigration Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP, that businesses have to check the right to work of their EU National employees both during the transition period and after Brexit.

“It is simply unacceptable that, with only five months to go until the UK is set to leave the EU, there is still no viable system in place which can provide employers with the information they need over workers’ status,” said FTA head of skills Sally Gilson.

“Despite asking for clarification on this issue since Article 50 was triggered,” she continued, “it seems incredible that the government has let the clock run down to this point without giving business the answers it has been requesting.  Asking employers to prove the right to work status of their workforce, despite assurances in the summer that this would not be needed, is simply unacceptable.”

The FTA’s Gilson explained that this is “a massive burden on employers who despite assurances in the summer to the contrary, will be expected to check the right to work status.”

Following reassurances from the Home Office in summer, the FTA had been reassuring its members, wrongly, that they would not have to do this. Gilson said, to now “hear that employers will have to make these checks, however the Government doesn’t yet know how employers will be able to do so. The whole situation is shocking and almost farcical. We are now less than five months from Brexit and employers will effectively be asked to check right to work for employees without a mechanism to do so.”

She emphasised that “imperative for the continued efficiency of the UK’s supply chain that the logistics industry can not only retain the workers we have, but continue to access them during the transition period as the UK leaves the EU.  Any issues around the right to work in the UK have to be resolved now – otherwise employers could easily deem EU nationals too risky to employ.  The logistics sector is committed to Keeping Britain Trading – without the workers to do this, business could grind to a halt,” concluded Gilson.