Government plans requiring UK employers to conduct immediate “right to work” checks on all EU staff in the event of a no-deal Brexit are unworkable and could spell catastrophe for the logistics supply chain, according to the FTA.

The plans were revealed by immigration minister Caroline Nokes during an evidence session to the Home Affairs Select Committee last week.

Despite this, Nokes also revealed that as yet there are no systems in place to allow employers to make these checks.

Sally Gilson, FTA head of skills, said: “Following Home Office assurances in the summer, we have been reassuring our members that they will not be expected to check right to work for EU citizens.

“We now hear that employers will have to make these checks, however the government doesn’t yet know how employers will be able to do so. The whole situation is shocking and almost farcical: we are now less than five months from Brexit and employers will affectively be asked to check right to work for employees without a mechanism to do so.”

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Gilson warned that with EU nationals currently making up 12% of the UK’s logistics workforce and with a shortfall in lorry drivers and warehouse staff, any further loss of EU workers could be “catastrophic” to the flow of goods and services in the UK.

She said: “It is imperative for the continued efficiency of the UK’s supply chain that the logistics industry can not only retain the workers we have, but continue to access them during the transition period as the UK leaves the EU.

“Any issues around the right to work in the UK have to be resolved now – otherwise employers could easily deem EU nationals too risky to employ. The logistics sector is committed to keeping Britain trading – without the workers to do this, business could grind to a halt,” Gilson warned.

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