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Brexit and construction companies

Many construction companies will have been facing considerable disruption since the referendum in which the UK voted to leave the European Union. Since Brexit is now a certainty, this will make it easier for construction companies to plan for the future.

What disruptions should construction companies expect?

There are a number of disruptions which will specifically affect construction companies, including how they obtain construction materials from the EU, or export construction materials to the EU. It is also likely that regulations will change respect of how construction companies are governed. 

How will employment change?

One big change that construction companies will face following Brexit is in respect of employment. Many construction companies employ large numbers of European citizens and also large numbers of persons from outside the European Union.

In respect of the European Union employees, it is important that those that are already in the UK use the new system under the Immigration Rules Appendix EU in order to make applications which show they can continue to reside in the UK. As an employer you cannot require that your employees do this, however, once the rules relating to new arrivals change in 2021, persons that have been residing in the UK will need to evidence this in order to distinguish them from new arrivals. The new set of rules for those European nationals already resident in the UK is already in place, and we advise that those Europeans here register their stay as soon as possible.

What about Tier 2 licences?

Many construction companies also have a Tier 2 licence from the Home Office, which enables them to employ people from outside the EU. The Immigration Rules at Appendix J list a number of roles which a person can be sponsored to do. These include production managers and directors in construction, building services managers, construction managers, directors (building construction). Construction companies also employ civil engineers, architects, chartered surveyors, quantity surveyors, chartered architectural technologists and perhaps most widely, project managers and contract managers. All of these roles can be filled with workers outside of the EU, provided the resident labour market test is met.

What is the shortage occupation list?

The Immigration Rules also contain a ‘shortage occupation list’, this is a list of roles that are so in demand in the UK, there is no need to advertise the role in the same way as you do for a normal resident labour market test. Many of the roles likely to exist in a construction company appear on the shortage occupation list.

For example, civil engineers, architects and quantity surveyors all appear on the list. Where a role is on the shortage occupation list is likely to be much quicker for you to bring in non-European nationals.

How has Brexit impacted industries?

Many industries, construction included, suffered losses of employees in the period following the Brexit referendum with Europeans reportedly stating that they no longer felt welcome in the UK. With resident unemployment low, many construction companies looked overseas to fill gaps left by European employees. The amount of labour required from third countries outside of the EU is likely to continue to increase, particularly where restrictions on EU national rights to work start to bite. The absolute earliest that this can happen is on 1 January 2021, and this may well be later; however, it’s worth it for companies to start planning for their future employment, as, particularly in the construction industry, this is likely to come from different places than it has done historically.

What can Westkin Associates do for you?

We can assist you with in-house audits to help you prepare for Brexit and to review your Tier 2 licence. We can also provide advice on the areas of your construction company where you may be able to recruit from overseas and the Home Office costs of doing so.

Call now at 020 7118 4546 or email

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