EU Referendum Advice for UK Employers

With the EU referendum set to take place on Thursday 23rd June, voters are just days away from deciding whether Britain should remain in the European Union.

As the Brexit debate draws to a close there is still an element of uncertainty on both sides of the campaign as to what the precise effects of leaving the EU would be. Various arguments have been presented, from an economical viewpoint to the issue of national identity, however it remains to be seen how the lives of many UK and EU nationals will be impacted if the nation votes to leave.

From an immigration perspective many questions remain unanswered, particularly for the large number of EU citizens currently settled in Britain.

Despite the government’s intention to reduce immigration to “tens of thousands” when elected in 2010, research shows that migration figures have actually increased by more than a third in that time. Overall net migration currently stands at 333,000 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with EU migration accounting for almost half (49%) of that figure.

There are approximately 3 million EU citizens living in the UK at present, largely from Poland and Ireland, however it is thought to be extremely unlikely that they will be forced to return to their home countries should Britain elect to leave the EU.

This has not been proposed by any Leave campaigners, although in any case it is thought that the Vienna Convention would allow EU citizens who are already settled in the UK (and UK citizens residing in the EU) to remain where they are.

However, future migration from the EU into Britain would largely depend on the terms of the deal the UK makes with the EU in the event of an exit.  As the current government has so far failed to reduce migration from outside the EU, it is unclear if it would succeed in doing so for EU nationals even if the Leave campaign is successful.  

Whatever the outcome on Friday morning, it is safe to say that no major changes will be seen immediately, whether a renegotiation whilst still in the EU, or the new terms outside of it. Employers are advised to keep business as usual and not to panic regardless of the decision, until we have further details in the coming weeks and months.

If you have any further queries regarding the outcome of the EU referendum, then please do not hesitate to contact us at


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