BREXIT - what does this mean for EU hires?

When the UK left the European Union at the start of 2021 it brought many changes to industries across the country, including the Science Industry.  Whilst the effects of Brexit are still becoming clear, it would seem STEM individuals and organisations are being considered within the hiring framework for EU citizens.

There are approximately 14.4 million people working within STEM subjects in the EU alone (Nature), many of whom would be a great addition to any UK organisation. But what is the new process of hiring people who do not hold a British passport? And what does this mean for EU and other nationals who already work in the UK?

Irish citizens are exempt from the new Brexit rules, as free movement is allowed between the UK and Ireland.

Already employed EU, EEA and Swiss nationals

According to CIPD, ‘Current employees and their families who were in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020 will have to apply for settled or pre-settled status under the European Settlement Scheme (EUSS) by 30 June 2021.  Where employees work within a regulated profession requiring set qualifications, these will now need to be ‘officially recognised’ in the UK if the qualifications were not attained here.’ This can be done through the Government’s website which also contains the contact details of each public authority who can recognise their qualifications.

Hiring new EU, EEA and Swiss nationals

People who wish to work in the UK will now have to apply under the new points system, and again in regulated environments will have to have their qualifications ‘officially recognised’ as with existing employees (CIPD).

According to the Government’s website most employers will have to have a sponsor licence to hire EU citizens and there are different routes to hire EU employees, including the Skilled Worker route and the Global Talent route.  Many STEM jobs are included within the framework for skilled workers and some science industry occupations are on the government’s list of ‘specific shortage occupation’, including but not limited to Biological Scientists and Biochemists.

Seemingly the points system is helpful to those working within STEM industries.  A total of 70 points is required to apply to work in the UK, 50 points of which is available from a job offer from a licenced sponsor at an appropriate level alongside speaking English at a required level.  A job offer in an occupation in an area with a skills shortage is worth 20 points and a PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job is worth a further 20 points.  The salary of the job offer also features within the points system.


Organisations will need to adapt to the new system. What we do know is that there is a rich talent pool of suitable candidates within the EU.  As a talent provider to other nations outside of the EU, we already work with organisations who have similar systems in place and continue to source candidates from abroad.  Partnerships between the UK and EU can and will still work for future scientific endeavour.  If you need assistance with hiring from the EU, please give us a call.

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