The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

It’s not the most exciting name for a parliamentary bill, but with everyone so focused on Covid-19 it’s important to remember that other legislation which will affect UK employers is still working its way through Parliament.

The above Bill was subject to a second reading on Monday 18th May 2020 and looks to do the following:

  • Repeal the EU law which will end free movement of EU, EEA and Swiss nationals. This will mean that EU, EEA and Swiss nationals (as well as their family) will be subject to UK immigration laws, after the end of the Brexit transition period, which is currently 31st December 2020.
  • Protect the rights of Irish citizens to enter the UK without being subject to the UK immigration laws that will exist for other EU members.
  • Allows the Government (through regulations) to modify retained EU law on social security co-ordination.

What does the Bill not cover?

The Bill does not indicate or confirm the new immigration system, which will apply (after the Brexit transition period) to EU and non-EU citizens. Instead, we will have to wait until the ‘Immigration Rules’ are released some time before January 2021. However, the Government did release a policy statement back in February 2020, which gave some initial details of how it would work. These are detailed below:

Skilled Workers

  • The UK will be introducing a point based system and while initially a general salary threshold of £30,000 was proposed, this has now been reduced to £25,600.
    • It is worth noting that applicants who fall under the category of skilled worker will be able to ‘trade’ characteristics i.e. specific terms of their job offer and qualifications against a lower salary than the above threshold in order to enter the country to work.
  • The skills threshold is being reduced from RQF6 (bachelor’s degree) to RQF3 (A Levels), the cap is removed on the number of people that can enter through the skilled worker route and they are removing the resident labour market test.
    • These changes mean that skilled workers will be able to come to the UK from anywhere in the world and the process will be simpler. This is to marry up with the Government’s message that the UK is open for business.
  • Skilled workers will have to demonstrate that they have a job offer from an approved sponsor, the job offer is at the required skill level, and that they can speak English. Potential migrants will have to meet the points system as below, of which a total of 70 points is required to be eligible to apply to enter the UK:
Characteristics Tradeable Points
Offer of job by approved sponsor No 20
Job at appropriate skill level No 20
Speaks English at required level No 10
Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039 Yes 0
Salary of £23,040 – £25,599 Yes 10
Salary of £25,600 or above Yes 20
Job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC) Yes 20
Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job Yes 10
Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job Yes 20

 

Highly-skilled Workers

  • The government is also looking to create a route for ‘highly-skilled’ workers to enter the UK without sponsorship/or a job offer subject to them meeting the required points threshold. It is yet to be determined what would categorise someone as ‘highly-skilled’

Lower-skilled workers

  • Currently, the Government has committed to reducing overall migration and therefore is not planning on creating a new route for lower-skilled workers, however, it acknowledges the following:
    • UK businesses will be expected to adapt to the ending of free movement following the end of the Brexit transition and rather than relying on being able to easily recruit lower-skilled workers should focus on investment in staff retention, productivity and wider investment in technology and automation.
    • Over 3.2 million applications have been made to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and both pre-settled and settled status under the EUSS allows unrestricted rights to work.
    • Pilot schemes for seasonal workers in agriculture have been quadrupled to 10,000 places
    • Youth mobility arrangements exist with eight countries/territories which allows for 20,000 young people to enter the UK which will help fill the lower-skilled vacancies

Other things to note:

  • The UK expects to treat EU citizens as non-visa nationals meaning that they can come to the UK for up to 6 months without requiring a VISA
  • Government expects to allow EU citizens to continue to use e-gates at border control, but they will keep this policy under review (potentially being a reflection on which countries allow UK citizens to enter through their own border controls using e-gates respectively).
  • There isn’t a proposed route for self-employed persons, however they will be able to continue to enter through the ‘innovator’ route, allowing artists, musicians, entertainers etc to continue to contribute to the British economy.

The changes to the system are large, so keep an eye out for future blogs from the team which will provide information on any updates, the progress on Brexit and how it may affect employee rights and information regarding the VISA process for migrant workers.

By Kris Kerins BSc (Hons) PGC (Tech Mgmt)HR Business Partner

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