Business leaders issue call for action over impact of Brexit on workers

Malcolm Lyons, chairman, Hunts FSB

Malcolm Lyons, chairman, Hunts FSB - Credit: Archant

Small businesses need clarity on employing European workers in the run up to Brexit, a business leader has said.

Malcolm Lyons, leader of the Federation of Small Businesses’ branch in Huntingdonshire, said a lack of guidance made it difficult for small firms to plan ahead.

He was responding to the latest home affairs committee report on the implications of Brexit for the UK immigration system.

Mr Lyons, who is also area leader for the FSB’s Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire region, said: “One in five small firms that employ staff have an EU worker on their books.

“By providing so little guidance on what the future looks like for these vital workers, the Government is making it that much harder for small firms to plan ahead.”

Mr Lyons said: “We have many small businesses employing European workers in Huntingdonshire. We want them to stay and help our businesses grow. I welcome our hard working friends, and want them to remain in a flourishing Cambridgeshire economy.”

His views were echoed by FSB national chairman Mike Cherry, who said: “It’s absolutely vital that the process for securing ‘settled status’ is as streamlined as possible once it’s off the ground.

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“Almost all small business owners have no experience of using the points-based immigration system, so we need to avoid a situation where they’re expected to double up as immigration officers.”

Mr Cherry added: “Ideally, we’d have one set of immigration rule changes post-Brexit. As things stand, small firms are facing a new set of rules during the transition period and a new set of rules again once we get to 2021.

“Those switchovers need to cause minimal disruption to small firms. Otherwise, the Government risks shocks to the wider economy.”