Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to the newest version of your browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of Construction News, please enable cookies in your browser.

Welcome to the Construction News site. As we have relaunched, you will have to sign in once now and agree for us to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Will you stand up for your EU workers?

The government has finally offered reassurances to EU workers here that they will be able to stay post-Brexit.

This is crucial for the construction industry, and firms desperate to retain EU workers will have been reassured by Theresa May’s statement this week.

In the government policy paper, it clearly states that no EU citizen living here (lawfully) will “have to leave as a result of us leaving the EU” before a cut-off date.

We don’t yet know that cut-off date, but it could be as early as 30 March this year, when Article 50 was triggered. If an EU worker has lived in the UK for five years continuously before this cut-off date, they will be granted settled UK status.

But will EU workers consider moving here next year?

Mrs May said: “EU citizens who arrived after the cut-off date will be allowed to remain in the UK for at least a temporary period and may still become eligible to settle permanently.”

This ambiguous language won’t encourage workers to consider moving here, as the long-term implications are unclear – especially when coupled with a probable crackdown on immigration numbers.

Construction employers must now prove their commitment to the EU workers many are so reliant on.

The government will soon start allowing EU citizens to obtain their UK immigration status, before Britain exits the EU. There will also be a cost attached. Employers who show willing to educate EU workers as to what they need to do and when (and contributing to the cost) will set themselves apart.

According to a CITB study published this week, there are more than 100,000 construction workers here who hail from just four EU countries: Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Ireland. While Irish people will enjoy special status post-Brexit, workers from other EU countries will desperately be wanting to understand their own circumstances better.

In London, half of the employers who responded to the CITB survey said they were in some way dependent on migrant workers.

Worryingly, 6 per cent of non-UK workers plan to leave the UK in the next 12 months, according to the CITB’s research, at a time when they are desperately needed. This figure also seems optimistic.

A Lloyds survey revealed this week that 52 per cent of UK companies had experienced difficulty recruiting skilled labour in the past six months (up from 31 per cent in January) while Deloitte research found that a third of non-British workers are considering leaving the UK.

This week’s pledges on retaining EU workers are welcome. Whether the UK will be as welcoming to future generations remains unclear.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Haven't we forgotten the Commonwealth people who we closed the door to when we joined the EU (not the original EEC). Trained to our standards, generally compatible qualifications, first or training language English, whats not to like. They want to work here, not necessarily emigrate here and if the do the go through a 5 to 7 years process, sponsored by their employer, background checks,language and a test most nationals would not pass at a current cost of around £6,000. The Irish, Spanish, Italians and other western europeans and Scandinavians have never had a problem coming here to work or our going their to work. If we want a right of abode we apply for citizenship properly.

    It must be remembered that according to DEFRA we have a sustainable population of 35 to 36 million, we can probably manage 40 to 45 million but not the numbers we have now. Emigration Policy rather than an Immigration policy?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.