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Brexit impact on Fife Council workforce

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Hundreds of Fife Council workers will have to apply for settled status as a result of Brexit.

An estimated 441 staff members, many of them in social care and early years care, are EU citizens from outside the UK, accounting for almost 2% of the total workforce.

There is uncertainty over how many will remain when the UK leaves the EU and what impact there will be on services from staff leaving, or a reduction in the number of EU citizens applying for jobs.

The local authority’s preparations for managing and mitigating the workforce implications of Brexit are focused on ensuring employees have the right to work in the UK after withdrawal and workforce planning to address any potential shortfall.

EU citizens’ automatic right to work in the UK will expire in June 2021 and applications for settled status will be taken from March, next year.

The council is to encourage its affected social care workers to take advantage of a pilot scheme running until December 21, allowing those employed in the health or social care sector to apply early.

It is also to undertake a census of employees’ nationalities so it can communicate with, and support, EU employees and conduct workforce planning.

Work by council officers in preparing for the potential implications of Brexit will be reported to the council’s scrutiny committee on Tuesday.

A report by HR service manager Fiona Allan states: “At this stage we do not know the intentions of our EU employees and trying to establish whether they will choose to remain will form part of ongoing communications.

“Any reduced number in future could impact our workforce and therefore our ability to provide services in areas where non-UK EU citizens are more prevalent, e.g. early years care and social care.

“HR business partners are working with services to identify potential impacts if existing EU employees choose to leave or fewer EU citizens choose to come to Fife.”

The report also states Brexit will become a standing item in the council’s workforce planning and that communications with EU workers must be reviewed.

It said: “It is also important that we are open and candid with EU employees, reassuring wherever possible and offer support via the employee counselling service for those worried about impending changes.

“To date communication has concentrated on sharing Home Office updates, primarily about settled status, on FISH [the council’s intranet service] and through nominated service contacts.

“Our non-UK EU employees have also been encouraged to subscribe to the government’s email alerts.”

The nationality census, it said, would be followed by regular review of data and potential impacts, and HR business partners would work with services to identify potential impacts.

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