Lawyer warns SMEs over Brexit impact on workers

Scotland relies heavily on EU workers in sectors such as agriculture, food and drink, and life sciences. Picture: Getty Images
Scotland relies heavily on EU workers in sectors such as agriculture, food and drink, and life sciences. Picture: Getty Images
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An employment lawyer has called for employers to take action to prepare for Brexit, warning that Scottish small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are among businesses most at risk of significant workforce issues after the UK leaving Europe.

Kate Wyatt, employment law partner at Lindsays, which has offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee, has highlighted research showing that Scotland relies heavily on EU workers in sectors such as agriculture, food and drink, and life sciences. However, it is estimated that up to 15 per cent of SMEs have taken no preparatory action.

Wyatt, who has worked with employer and employee clients from sectors including life sciences, said it is not too late for employers to take the necessary steps to ensure their company and workforce is Brexit-ready as 29 March approaches.

She said: “The primary issues for employers are two-fold: first, how can they support existing EU staff, helping them to achieve some clarity and certainty as well as future-proofing their staffing needs; and second, what will they need to do to meet their obligations to carry out right-to-work checks and to be able to show that they have done so.”

Wyatt said employers can take many steps to ensure they are ready. “Given the importance of EU migrant workers to many businesses, notably in hospitality, agriculture and life sciences, in Scotland, it’s important that employers act. Even now, it’s not too late for Scottish businesses to take steps to prepare.”

These measures include signposting the EU settlement scheme and providing confirmation of employment.