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How to Brexit-proof the workforce

Brexit brings with it a new set of requirements for employing staff from EU member states.

Following the end of the transition period, it’s important to know what skills you have available to your business and identify where skills gaps might emerge. This can help you prioritise which areas of your operations need to be staffed and find the skills you need.


  • Any business reliant upon EU nationals should encourage EU-national staff to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, so they can continue to live and work in the UK. Affected staff must submit their application for settled status before 30 June 2021.
  • British businesses will still be able to hire staff from EEA countries after end of the transition period. However, the UK government has introduced a controversial new points-based immigration system from 2021. People who want to live and work in the UK after 1 January 2021 will need to gain 70 points to be eligible to apply for a visa. The first 50 points will be awarded for meeting requirements such as an ability to speak English to an acceptable level and having a job offer from an approved employer. Applicants can earn the remaining 20 points by earning more than a “general salary threshold” of £25,600; having a job offer in a “shortage occupation”; being a “new entrant” to the labour market and holding a relevant PhD.
  • Health-workers can apply for a fast-track visa, while the system also encourages scientists and engineers.
  • International students will be able to stay in the UK for at least two years after graduating.


As of 1 January 2021, anyone you recruit from outside the UK (excluding Irish citizens) for the Skilled Worker route will need to demonstrate that:

  • They have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor;
  • They speak English;
  • The job offer is at the skill level of RQF3 or above (A level equivalent);
  • They’ll be paid at least £25,600 or the “going rate” for the job offer, whichever is higher.

If the job pays less than this – but no less than £20,480 – the applicant may still apply by trading points on specific characteristics against their salary.

Intra-company transfers

If you want to transfer a worker from a part of your business overseas to work for you in the UK, they can apply for the intra-company transfer route. Applicants will need to be existing workers who will undertake roles that meet the skills and salary thresholds.

As of 1 January 2021, workers transferring to the UK will need to:

  • Be sponsored as an intra-company transfer by a licensed sponsor;
  • Have 12 months’ experience working for a business overseas linked by ownership to the UK business they will work for;
  • Be undertaking a role at the required skill level of RQF6 or above (graduate-level equivalent);
  • Be paid at least £41,500 or the role’s “going rate”, whichever is higher.

Permission for workers transferred to the UK on the intra-company transfer route is temporary.

Workers can be assigned to the UK multiple times, but they cannot stay in the UK for more than five years in any six years.

Workers paid over £73,900 do not need to have worked overseas for 12 months and can stay for up to nine years in any 10 years.

“People who want to live and work in the UK will need to gain 70 points to be eligible to apply for a visa.”

Calum Fuller Calum Fuller is editor of AT and 20 magazines. He's previously served as editor of Credit Strategy, assistant editor Accountancy and began his career at Accountancy Age..

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