Brexit is here – what could it mean for your workforce?

It may have been out of the headlines for much of 2020, but as the year crawled to a close, Brexit was back.

One of the key areas with regards to its impact on dentistry, is the matter of EU nationals working in practices across the UK –including anyone from dentists and other dental professionals, to receptionists, patient coordinators and cleaners. If you are a practice owner, you may be looking for clarity, whether you are wondering how the new rules could affect recruitment, or if you already have EU nationals employed within your business.

The new rules

Since 1 January 2021, EU nationals no longer have the automatic right to live and work in the UK. The new points-based immigration system means anyone wishing to work here must now reach at least 70 points in order apply for skilled work.

How does an applicant accumulate 70 points? They need to show that: they can speak English at the required level (10 points); they have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor (20 points); the offer is at the required skill level (20 points) and that they will be paid either £25,600 p.a., or the “going rate” for that offer – whichever is higher (20 points).

If you have EU citizens in your employment on 31 December 2020, the new system will not apply to them. However, they must apply to the EU settlement scheme. If they have continuously been a resident in the UK for five years or more, they can apply for “settled status”; if it’s less than five years, “pre-settled status”.

As a business owner, are you obliged to assist them in their application? Well, no but it would be a good idea to send a reminder letter and ensure that they know where they can go for specific advice and support. There is also a wealth of information on the government’s website, both for you and any existing/prospective employees.

Outsource other tasks, for more time to focus

Always take advice from an employment law solicitor or consultant before acting. But
be assured that, with careful planning and by staying up to date, you can create a workforce that will keep your practice thriving. The right team means you can deliver a targeted, quality service and the new rules do not have to inhibit your success.

For smooth operations in the months ahead, as dentistry adapts to life outside the EU, look at where you could outsource. Payroll is one area where outsourcing will save money and time, leaving you free to focus on other areas of the business, including recruitment. Hand over payroll to experts, and you will get peace of mind that people will be paid on time and accurately, and that you will be fully compliant with HMRC’s regulations. Wagemate is a provider that will fully manage your payroll, including everything from BACS payments (perhaps not everyone is on the same payment schedule) to Auto Enrolment for pensions. You can get on with running your practice –including dealing with any issues that Brexit brings – knowing that payroll is in the hands of dedicated professionals.

Leaving the EU will affect who can work for you, because EU nationals no longer have the right to free movement within the UK. But dental practice owners, like all business owners, can take steps to mitigate any impact, by putting more efficient workflows in place. Outsourcing certain tasks is one way to do this, and outsourcing payroll is rarely not a good idea to ensure efficiency and compliance in a shifting landscape.