Supporting and recruiting talent in the pharma industry post-Brexit and COVID-19
13 April 2021
Brexit is impacting employers in the pharmaceuticals sector more than in most parts of the economy. The industry relies heavily on expertise from overseas, and new immigration rules are presenting new challenges. The fact that these changes are happening in the middle of a global pandemic makes it tougher still.
New challenges for business travel
Travel has changed. With the UK now outside the EU, there are different rules affecting UK nationals travelling in Europe, and it’s vital that you and your senior team understand the changes.
There are also increases in financial cost and the administrative burden post-Brexit: you may need to track travel and quickly gain an understanding of different countries' approaches to business travel. Sometimes you will need to obtain a work permit, but every EU country has its own rules.
For recruitment managers looking to hire over the next 12 months, there are big changes too. Brexit has led many EU citizens to leave the UK – a brain drain of skilled employees like lab technicians presents a huge challenge in the middle of a pandemic.
Employers can help by making those key roles more appealing, for instance by improving training, apprenticeships and offering other incentives, and the path is open for EU nationals coming to the UK to apply as Frontier Workers.
COVID-19 is adding to the complexity, with restrictions and constantly changing rules surrounding travel – a more harmonised approach to testing for travellers across all airlines and countries would certainly help on that front but is yet to be realised.
Some good news
Changes to the immigration rules earlier this month (March 2021) will help the sector. The Government has added roles in pharma to the list of ‘shortage occupations’, making it easier for people in these jobs to enter the UK. The list aims to ensure that businesses and public services across the UK can get access to the best and brightest talent from across the world. This now includes pharmacists and laboratory technicians.
What should you do now?
As an employer in the pharmaceuticals industry, here are some recommended steps that can be taken now:
- Register the non-UK citizens in your workforce with the relevant UK scheme to allow them to stay and work here, and keep them reassured. You will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30th June 2021.
- Work with your employees to make sure they have their relevant qualification recognised in the UK with the relevant professional regulator.
- Make sure you understand the right-to-work checks and ensure the non-UK citizens in your workforce must undertake that allows them to work in the UK.
- Be aware of the rapidly changing regulations about business travel. It’s a complex and dynamic environment because of the pandemic, so make sure your company remains compliant, and your workforce understands the rules around business travel.
If you would like to find out more or are seeking specific advice on any of the areas discussed above, please get in touch.