HR · 7 June 2017

Hiring short-term EU workers becomes major concern for almost all small business owners

short-term EU workers
Some three per cent of smaller employers outsourced at least half of work to EU freelancers

Some 97 per cent of smaller employers outsource between ten and 40 per cent of work to short-term EU workers, according to new research that uncovered the UK’s dependence on freelancers based in Europe.

The study, by recruitment platform People Per Hour, revealed hiring short-term EU workers for freelance positions had become a greater Brexit concern for more employers than trade access. The findings showed just 13 per cent currently exported to the EU.

Some 47 per cent of respondents stated increased bureaucracy after Britain exits the single market would deter them from hiring EU workers on a freelance basis. Despite the scepticism regarding access, owners expected to depend more greatly on short-term staff in the coming years.

Almost two-thirds of employers said they’d hire more freelancers in Britain’s negotiating period, while half were braced to spend more on short-term staff in the next few years.

Commenting on the findings, Xenios Thrasyvoulou, PeoplePerHour found and CEO, said it was “crucial” the incoming government made clear its plans for supporting smaller firms in the access of short-term EU workers, in terms of both costs and red-tape.

However, the number one fear for 63 per cent of small business owners was finding the cash to run their company.

Respondents were predominantly sceptical of any benefits once Britain left the EU. Almost three-quarters believed Brexit would bring no new business opportunities.

Thrasyvoulou said it was no surprise the financial impact of Brexit was the biggest worry for small firms, particularly in the cost of flexible hiring.

“While exporting isn’t really an issue for most, the potential hike in the cost of hiring overseas talent – not to mention the inevitable added bureaucracy – is a real concern.

“The UK, will of course try to make agreements that will eliminate these problems but nothing is for certain. Having said that, an advantage could be that employment law control will be returned to the UK, which may make it more appealing to set up a business here.”

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.