Recruiters split over Brexit impact on EU staff

Reports of doctors choosing to avoid UK, but industry body says ‘kneejerk reaction’ has not materialised

British businesses that rely on EU nationals are not experiencing any significant recruitment issues in the wake of the referendum result, despite anecdotal evidence of localised fallout.

The future of EU workers based in the UK is the subject of conjecture as the process to replace David Cameron as prime minister gets underway, and there is no consensus on how a mooted ‘Australian style’ system for migrants might work in practice.

That has led to speculation that EU nationals would either begin making plans to leave the country or would decline to take job opportunities in the first place.

On Monday, Jane Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said there was anecdotal evidence of doctors shunning the country. She told ITV News: “There is a lot of chatter about EU doctors who feel uncomfortable continuing to be here after the vote and are not applying for posts in the UK.

“In relation to the medical workforce, this is on top of a history of an increasing number of trainee doctors applying to work in other countries, particularly in Australia. So this adds to the concern that there has been over the last six months.”

But Recruitment & Employment Confederation policy director Tom Hadley told People Management: “There is no evidence of people going home from the UK or not taking job offers to come here. People are asking questions rather than taking any action.

“We are aware that debates are happening internally at employers about the impact of the vote but there has not been a kneejerk reaction.”

Chris Slay, director at international recruitment agency Skills Provision, said the certainty of the vote appeared to relax people. “There was a reservation before the referendum because no one was sure what would happen,” he said. “Now we have certainty about leaving the EU, I have not seen any panic at all.

“We are not getting any concerned calls from Europeans but some employers here want to know what will happen to the staff they already have from the EU.”

The food processing, agriculture, care and hospitality sectors rely to a large extent on workers from the EU, Slay added.

But he said nothing had changed in the recruitment of workers from abroad: “Employers continue to hire from Europe.”

Charlotte Turner, manager at recruitment firm Portfolio Credit Control, said people continued to travel from Europe for jobs in the UK despite the vote. “We have a lady coming from Belgium this week,” she said. “People just seem to be carrying on.”

Turner said that more broadly across the UK jobs market, the uncertainty caused by the referendum result and consequential political upheaval might mean a switch from permanent to temporary roles in some cases.

“Members are expecting more demand for temporary and contract staff,” added Hadley. “Employers are still providing goods and services and need staff, but they also want flexibility.

“There was already a demand for temporary workers because of the skills shortage and the difficulty finding people for permanent roles.”

Hiring freezes in place before the referendum were likely to remain in the short term, Hadley said.

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