The Prime Minister told this week's EU leader’s summit in Brussels that a new ‘UK settled status’ would be granted EU migrants who have lived in the country for five years, giving them access to the NHS, education and other benefits.
Those arriving up until the UK’s exit in 2019 are also expected to be granted a ‘grace period’ of two years to build up the same ‘settled’ status.
The proposals are subject to Britons living in EU states being granted the same rights.
The plans will offer some relief to the UK hospitality industry, which the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) estimates employs 180,000 EU nationals.
A recent KPMG report predicted that hospitality businesses could face a shortfall of around 60,000 workers per year if they were blocked from employing European staff.
The ALMR yesterday (22 June) hailed May's proposals as a ‘pragmatic’ solution to the issue.
“The eating and drinking out sector relies on migrant workers, particularly those from the EU, and the uncertainty that has surrounded the security of their status has been unhelpful,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the ALMR.
“The plans outlined by Theresa May – albeit with many questions remaining – represent a positive signal for hospitality businesses and workers alike. For a sector that is such a driving force and significant contributor to the UK’s wider economy, the benefits of an outcome that balances domestic employment needs with retained rights for EU workers would be wide-reaching.”
The British Beer & Pub Association also welcomed the 'clarity' of the proposals, adding that around 23 per cent of the current UK pub workforce is from the European Union.