Logistics businesses are expected to check the right to work of their EU National employees both during the transition period and after Brexit, according to evidence presented to the Home Affairs Select Committee by the Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP, Minister of State for Immigration last week.
But, as FTA, the industry body which speaks for the logistics industry, points out, no system currently exists to carry out these checks, and as a result, industry will be held responsible for conducting the lengthy processes required to avoid prosecution and removal of illegal workers.
“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,” says Sally Gilson, FTA’s Head of Skills.
“For some time, FTA has been expressing concern over the legality of allowing EU workers to keep working in the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit: a verbal promise guaranteeing rights is not legally binding. Ms Nokes’ appearance in front of the Select Committee has created further concerns throughout the sector about whether business can continue to rely on these vital workers to keep the UK’s supply chain moving.”
Speaking to the Committee yesterday, Ms Nokes said that, “In the intervening period of any transition period it will be incredibly difficult to differentiate between an EU citizen here for the first time, for example, and somebody who has been here for a significant period of time and hasn’t yet applied for their settled status but would be perfectly entitled to it if they were to.”
As Ms Gilson continues, this will place a huge burden on employers to prove the status of their workforce, “Despite asking for clarification on this issue since Article 50 was triggered, 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. While logistics as a sector is notoriously good at adapting to change, this additional burden will make it very difficult indeed to keep the supply chain running smoothly at a time when there will be added pressures from new trading conditions, declarations and other processes to adopt.”
This put’s a massive burden on employers who despite assurances in the summer to the contrary, will be expected to check the right to work status. When quizzed further Nokes said that they did not know how employers will be able to check those EU citizens yet to apply for settled status.