News and Events






Leaked document shows government's latest thinking on employing EU nationals post-Brexit

View profile for Kathryn Dooks

On 6 September the Guardian published a copy of an 82-page memo which had been leaked from within government, detailing the government's current thinking on the employment of EU nationals post-Brexit. 

Whilst the paper is stated to be subject to Ministerial approval (and the independent Migration Advisory Committee has been asked by government to make recommendations in this area which are still awaited) it provides an interesting insight into the likely direction of travel for government policy, including: 

  • Restricting EU migration by giving “preference in the job market to resident workers”. It sounds as though the government is likely to require employers to show they have conducted something akin to the current "Resident Labour Market Test" (which applies to non-EEA nationals) before employing EU nationals.
  • Limiting rights to travel to the UK without a job offer
  • Limiting unskilled workers to a maximum of 2 years in the UK 
  • Granting skilled workers permission to work in the UK for 3 years initially, in line with non-EEA skilled migration
  • Limiting rights to settle in the UK (this is likely to be limited to those who have worked in the UK for at least 5 years and who meet a minimum income threshold)
  • A potential cap on the number of EU nationals who can come to the UK each year to work
  • Scrapping EU rules on the rights of extended family members to reside in the UK. 
  • Introducing a minimum salary level of £18,600 a year if an EU national wishes to bring a spouse with them to the UK, bringing EU nationals in line with the restriction already imposed on British nationals.
  •  Requirement to travel to the UK on a passport rather than a national ID card
  • Introduction of Biometric Residence Permits for EU nationals in line with the current policy for non-EEA nationals. 

As the Guardian highlights in its article, the memo has a strong “Britain first” theme. It states: “We are clear that, wherever possible, UK employers should look to meet their labour needs from resident labour. It is now more important than ever that we have the right skills domestically to build a strong and competitive economy.”