Scotland’s tourist industry is predicting an influx of UK holidaymakers this summer, with the northern Highlands likely to be a staycation hotspot, says Fiona Herrell, employment partner at Brodies LLP.
Here, Fiona explains more:
“Historically, EU nationals have filled many of the vacancies within tourism; in 2017 an estimated 207,000 EEA citizens were employed in Scotland alone, with around a fifth based rurally. Brexit has had some impact on the rules for employing migrant workers – but several options are still available for businesses considering this year’s staffing needs.
The EU Settlement Scheme
EEA and Swiss citizens resident in the UK before 1 January 2021 and who successfully apply under the scheme can stay and work in the tourism sector without another form of visa. In some cases, seasonal workers who have spent time overseas, but work in Scotland for part of the year may be eligible.
Notably, EEA and Swiss citizens coming to the UK after 1 January for the first time need a visa or work permit to work here.
In most cases, the scheme is only open until 30 June, so employers should speak with eligible employees to ensure they are aware of deadlines and the implications if they miss them.
Frontier worker permits
The new frontier worker permit scheme opened in December 2020 and those who are eligible may not need a visa.
Generally, a frontier worker is an EEA or Swiss citizen, who regularly travels to work or for self-employment in the UK, but whose primary residence is outside the UK. The eligibility criteria are strict, but this permit will be of particular interest to employers in tourism who rely on seasonal workers from Europe.
Key advantages of this permit are:
- It’s free;
- There is no need to pay the immigration health surcharge;
- It can be renewed indefinitely, as long as the individual retains their frontier worker status;
- An individual can carry out a low or highly skilled job.
This visa may be suitable for certain seasonal workers who come to the UK regularly to work – yet many are unaware that they could qualify, so it’s worth checking who is eligible. Those entering the UK after 1 July for work will need to have the permit in place if they qualify, so applications should be made now.
UK points-based immigration system: Skilled worker route
EEA and Swiss nationals working in the UK for the first time from 1 January 2021 will need a visa, if they do not have the right to work under the EU Settlement Scheme or as a frontier worker.
Any employers intending to recruit medium (or highly skilled) migrants from the EU or elsewhere will need a Skilled Worker/Intra Company Transfer sponsor licence, and should apply for one now. Jobs suitable for sponsorship include hotel, accommodation, restaurant and tourist information managers.
The Skilled Worker route (formerly Tier 2) changed significantly last year and the sponsorship process is now faster, more certain and streamlined. The immigration cap has been removed, as well as the Resident Labour Market Test, avoiding the need for employers to advertise a position for 28 days.
While simplification of the route is good news, eligibility is limited; lower skilled jobs, for instance, cannot be sponsored. Other mandatory requirements include minimum salary thresholds, English language abilities and maintenance/financial factors.
Costs to consider include visa fees, the Immigration Skills charge, and the Immigration Health Surcharge.
These options are not exhaustive, there’s also the Youth Mobility route – or the new Graduate visa, which opens on 1 July, allowing international students to stay and work in any job, for any employer, for two or three years after their studies finish. No sponsorship is involved and the individual can fill a low or highly skilled role.”
*Fiona Herrell is an employment partner at Brodies LLP.