Recent reports show only 5% of UK businesses are looking for major changes to employment law in post-Brexit Britain. Of those consulted so far, most seem concerned with potential changes that could come about in relation to sick leave, discrimination and equal pay laws, amongst other things. But what others appear to be neglecting to address are the, as yet unknown, implications around wider movements of the UK workforce both in and out of the country, and any changes in related legislation arising as a result.
As screening industry leaders, here at Complete Background Screening (CBS) we’ve been conducting some research of our own into the utilisation of Right To Work checks bearing these issues in mind. What we found is this – Right To Work checks are among the least performed screening services utilised in the UK today. With Brexit an increasingly approaching reality, clearly this is a statistic which has to change.
The farming community has already issued the stark warning that food will ‘rot in the fields’ and Britain will be unable to produce what it eats if the government cannot guarantee that growers will continue to have access to tens of thousands of EU workers after Brexit. Meurig Raymond, president of the National Farmers’ Union told its annual conference this year the industry would require 90,000 seasonal workers a year by 2021, on top of more than 250,000 permanent workers – more than three-quarters of whom now come from the EU.
Safeguarding the easy passage of such labour into the UK is clearly going to be of high priority for the UK Government moving forward if one of its biggest industries is continued to be supported. Enabling employers to better protect themselves against the potential risks involved in recruiting employees who were once subject to rules and regulations that may no longer hold relevance within the UK once Brexit is fully achieved must also be a key consideration.
At present, every EU worker has certain minimum rights relating to health and safety at work, general rights and obligations, workplaces, work equipment, specific risks and vulnerable workers, labour law, part-time work, fixed-term contracts, working hours, employment of young people, informing and consulting employees, and a host of other employment related issues.
The potential for all, some, or even a minority of these to be amended or rescinded altogether leaves UK businesses open to all kinds of vulnerabilities when it comes to ensuring they continue to comply with the necessary regulations required of them. Stepping up vigilance around the rights employees have to work in the UK in the first place is a relatively simple first step in ensuring self-preservation remains a priority for employers coming to terms with the changes we are due. With the check already widely available, affordable and accessible via a host of industry operators specialising in such services, the time to reinforce recruitment screening practices whatever sector you operate in is now.
Without such due diligence, UK businesses may well leave themselves open to all kinds of potential employment related issues. We know that investment in more conventional screening practices, such as the requirement for DBS checks for example, continues to rise industry wide. Never has the time been more right for companies to run with this attitude and step up their efforts across the board. The associated implications of such a rise in screening figures generally are also that businesses across the UK are in some instances adopting a ‘tick box’ approach to employment screening, however, and this also needs to change as the reality of post-Brexit Britain grows ever closer.