Uncertainty over UK citizens’ future status is prompting some European employers to steer clear.

Past 40, and nearly five years after he arrived in Madrid, John Halliday is moving back to the UK and in with his parents. He had “nowhere else to go”, he says: Brexit had cost him his job and made other Spanish employers reluctant to hire Britons.

For employers, “no candidate is so special that you look at a pile of CVs and say: ‘Hey, let’s take a big risk with that one,’” Shields says. “This is what ending free movement into Britain means: barriers going up for Britons wanting to work in that enormous great market on our doorsteps.”

The risk of no deal, which would leave 1.3 million British nationals in the EU – 80% of them of working age or younger – facing a postcode lottery of 27 unilateral solutions for residency rights, social security, healthcare and recognition of qualifications, has now receded until 31 January, although it will return.

Boris Johnson’s renegotiated withdrawal deal, if it is ratified, does secure basic residency and social security rights, guaranteeing the freedom to move and live within the EU during the transition period plus the right to stay when it ends, and to apply for permanent residence after five years.

But the freedom of British citizens living in one EU country to move at will within the bloc, as they can now, and the right of all those who leave the UK after Brexit to live and work in the EU at all, are subject to any future agreement – and will depend on the rules Britain applies to EU citizens coming to the UK.

“We have absolutely no idea what the regime will be like unless and until the future relationship is actually agreed,” says Shields. “Will there be visa-free working? No one knows. There’ll certainly have to be some kind of permit system. And nothing can fully replicate free movement.”

In the meantime, anecdotal evidence suggests that continuing uncertainty about the exact status of British nationals on the continent after Brexit is already prompting some European employers to steer clear. “People are being turned down because they may soon not be EU citizens,” Shields says.

‘If you have 10 CVs from around Europe, why look at a Brit?’

“Either they didn’t respond at all, or it was an instant no,” she says. “I’d never had trouble finding work in Berlin; quite the reverse. I had the right skills and experience. One company finally explained it couldn’t accept candidates who needed a work permit. I said I didn’t: I was still an EU citizen. I never heard back.”

Thornton has since applied for, and been granted, permanent residence in Germany. Straightaway, she secured a string of interviews and, last week, a new job.

A similar experience greeted a British IT expert who moved to Luxembourg in 2017 with his wife, after she was recruited to a new job there from the UK. The couple, who asked not to be named, had planned for him to spend a year at home with their young children before he started looking for work, he said.

“Quite soon after that, I was offered a great job with Euratom, the European atomic energy agency – we got to choosing the company car,” he says. “Then, overnight, they changed their mind. The recruiter told me afterwards they couldn’t get anyone to sign off on me because of the uncertainty over my future status.”

Since then, he says, things had got to the point where “we nearly gave up and went home. We’d budgeted for two salaries. I must have sent 100 CVs and got maybe five responses. I’ve now spoken to a lot of people, a lot of agencies, and the general perception is: if you have 10 CVs from around Europe, why look at a Brit?”

This simply reflects “a wish to avoid a hassle and a risk you don’t need”, he says. “Firms here are used to hiring Japanese employees. They know the rules. But Brits are now an unknown. If you’re an Italian hiring here, you read a headline, hear something on the radio … You don’t have the time or the inclination. You play safe.”

‘British contractors are at the bottom of the pile’

Daniel Hibbs-Woodings has encountered the same difficulty. A highly qualified and experienced social housing professional who had previously studied and lived in Germany, he followed his German partner to Cologne in February.

“Property management jobs are plentiful here,” Hibbs-Woodings says. “I sent off 50 applications and got no replies. One filed online was rejected within 29 minutes. I knew I was instantly employable for all these jobs. I was stumped.”

Article – ‘CVs at bottom of pile’: Britons in EU say Brexit is taking its toll – by Jon Henley originally posted on The Guardian

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