The Changing Employment Landscape: Employment Law Hot Topics 2019

Author:Ms Gillian Moore, Elouisa Crichton, Katie Russell, Neil Maclean and Jacqueline Moore
Profession:Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP

Whether you are a start-up looking to hire your first recruit or an established multi-national business, navigating the world of employment law can be tricky. With Brexit still firmly at the top of the bill, we take a look at some of the challenges ahead for employers large and small. As businesses struggle with significant skill shortages, expect difficulties around international recruitment and gender pay disparities to be key issues in the year ahead.


With the position for EU nationals working in the UK pre-Brexit almost settled, and recent confirmation that applications for settlement in the UK will now be cost-free, we take a look further ahead and consider the recruitment challenges faced by the STEM sector and others in post-Brexit Britain.

The end of free movement following Brexit would lead to one of the biggest changes to immigration law in over 45 years, and is likely to bring the issue of immigration into sharp relief for businesses across the STEM sector - a sector that has already been feeling the effects of significant skill shortages even without the added complication of Brexit.

As things stand, employers need to be prepared for there to be no special treatment for EU nationals after Brexit, meaning that EU nationals will have to adhere to the same immigration rules as non-EU nationals and employers will need to become licensed Sponsors in order to attract and retain international talent. While the proposed abolition of the 'resident labour market test' (which, in broad terms, permits international recruitment only as a 'last resort' when there are no suitable home-grown candidates available) has the potential to expand international reach and will be welcomed by employers, one of the big questions is whether the current system, which is heavily bureaucratic, can cope with a huge increase in demand from employers.

The Sponsorship regime is heavily regulated, and burdensome for employers in terms of the associated record-keeping and reporting duties. For many businesses, preparing for and obtaining a Sponsor license will require a complete overhaul of HR processes and IT practices to ensure these are fit for purpose.

On top of this, a no-deal Brexit would make things even more complicated, with the government announcing this week that they will create a whole new immigration route for EU nationals arriving after 29th March. This will limit their ability to work in the UK to only three months, after which they will...

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