New research by the British Chambers of Commerce reveals that 5% of businesses have lost EU staff following the EU referendum while one in ten say EU employees are talking about leaving.
The findings are based on a poll of more than 800 UK businesses that employ EU staff conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). It reveals that more than two-fifths of companies say their EU employees have expressed concern over their future residency status following the vote to leave the European Union.
The BCC is calling on the Government to provide certainty on the residence rights of existing EU employees. It says the potential skills lost from existing EU workers leaving the UK would hamper businesses at a time when many are reporting recruitment difficulties. Businesses also need clarity on hiring from the 27 other EU countries during the transition period.
The Government, it says, must also "create a future immigration policy that allows businesses to plug their skills shortages with employees from the EU, with minimal bureaucracy, cost or barriers".
The key findings from the survey are:
- 41% of companies that employ EU workers say these staff have expressed uncertainty over their future residency status;
- 5% of businesses that employ EU workers have seen EU employees resign since the referendum;
- 10% of businesses have seen their EU employees state their intention to leave the UK;
- 60% of businesses surveyed think residency guarantees for EU workers would have a positive impact on their business (28% said it would have no impact and 9% said they were unsure or it was not applicable).
Adam Marshall, BCC acting director general, said: "Since the referendum many firms have expressed concern over the future status of their existing EU workforce. These hardworking people are absolutely vital to the success of businesses, and must be retained - we cannot afford to lose talented and skilled workers. Theresa May should reassure them as soon as possible that they will have the right to remain in the UK, to provide much-needed certainty both for EU employees and UK employers."
Rachel Suff, employment adviser at the CIPD, said: "Until a clear decision is made by Government, many workers from the EU will be feeling in limbo, particularly those without UK residency status who could be worried about their future right to remain. Employers need to communicate clearly with employees, emphasising that there will be no immediate changes."