Small firms raise fresh concerns over Brexit impact on EU workers
Fresh concerns have been raised by smaller firms about the impact of Brexit on employing EU workers.
A study showed that more than half of small businesses with EU workers are worried about accessing skilled staff.
Research among 1,200 members of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) found that one in five currently have EU staff.
Nearly three quarters recruited all of their EU workers when they were already living in the UK, and the vast majority of small firms have no experience using the UK's points-based immigration system to recruit non-EU workers.
The FSB said its report highlighted the need for small firms to have continued access to labour and skills from the EU post-Brexit.
If Brexit creates additional barriers to recruiting EU citizens, small firms that employ EU workers would consider moving their business abroad, reducing operations, or even closing down, said the FSB.
Chairman Mike Cherry said: "There is real concern among small firms with EU staff that they will lose access to the skills and labour their business needs to survive and grow.
"EU workers are a vital part of our economy, helping to plug chronic skills gaps across a wide range of sectors, and filling jobs in an already tight labour market.
"From packers to mechanics to graphic designers, small employers need to be able to hire the right person for the right job at the right time.
"Securing the right to remain for EU workers in the UK must be a priority."