October saw the Conservative Party Conference take place, where we learnt more about the Government’s plans for Brexit. Here are some of the things that we learnt…

1. Brexit negotiations will start no later than March 2017

Theresa May has confirmed that Article 50 will be triggered no later than March 2017, this will mark the start of a 2 year period of negotiations between the UK Government and the European Union finalising the terms of an exit.

2. Businesses must focus on training young people

Employers will take the lead in improving young people’s job prospects and filling future skills gaps. The Prime Minister confirmed during the Conservative Party Conference that employers must “train up local young people before [they] take on cheap labour overseas”.

3. Workers’ rights will be protected

The Government has confirmed that current EU law will be enshrined into UK law post Brexit. EU derived UK legislation on topics such as working time, maternity rights and discrimination will remain in place.

4. The Government will share limited information about its plans with the public

The Government believes that it risks showing its hand in negotiations with the EU if it releases too much information about its plans.  Watch out for consultations where your business and industry sector can put forward your views. Expect an imminent consultation on the rights of Tier 4 students and employer sponsorship.

5. Future immigration policy will focus on reducing net migration

Future policy will focus upon plugging skills shortages and preferencing British workers. The Government is committed to reducing net migration, but hasn’t decided how EU citizens will be impacted by Brexit. Watch this space! Currently in focus is the right of Tier 4 students, and their dependants, to work whilst studying. Also, a review of the employer sponsorship regime.

6. But…will also allow the UK to win the global battle for talent

The Government is committed to attracting the brightest and best to the UK. Theresa May has confirmed that the UK will not adopt a pure Australian type points based system, but could build on the current quasi points based system already in place within the UK. This could focus on employer led migration.

7. The UK wants EU country nationals to remain post Brexit

The Government wants to protect the rights of EU citizens living here, but this will depend on whether reciprocal arrangements are forthcoming for British Citizens living in Europe. Many EU citizens who have lived in the UK for more than 5 years are applying for a Permanent Residence Certificate confirming their status as permanent residents. This is also the first step to obtaining British Citizenship. Don’t forget to provide support to those workers affected during this period by providing relevant advice and guidance. The rights of EU workers to live and work in the UK are currently unaffected.

8. Companies may be required to provide statistics on nationality

The Government is exploring ways to encourage employers to take on local workers, one of these ways is to require employers to be transparent as to the nationalities within their workforce. This policy has been heavily criticised by both industry and legal experts as encouraging discrimination and discouraging international commerce. With so much widespread disapproval, it looks unlikely to be implemented.