Firms are being advised to “tread carefully” and “play it safe” amid warnings of the effect that Brexit could have on the construction industry.
The Migrant Advisory Committee recently recommended that the government impose restrictions on lower-skilled migrants coming to UK after it leaves the EU.
Construction site workers fall into the “lower-skilled” bracket, and insurance specialist ConstructionInsure has warned that restricting these workers would damage the industry, as it relies so heavily on them.
Research from the Construction Industry Training Board, IFF Research and the Institute of Employment Research at Warwick University found that there were 122,094 construction workers in the UK who were born in the EU, which is 45% of workers in the entire industry.
ConstructionInsure spokesman Mark Herbert said that losing migrant workers would increase the cost for UK building firms as they would have to recruit and train domestic workers to replace them, and they would have to pay skilled UK workers a higher wage.
Herbert has advised firms to be cautious while negotiations are still going ahead.
He said: “Companies should take steps to protect themselves against Brexit to stop their turnovers plummeting and the best way to do this is to continue with projects that are within their remit, and stick with safe work that they know they can handle comfortably.
“Whilst Brexit negotiations are taking place it is best to avoid taking on larger and more ambitious acquisitions. If firms take on newer, bigger contracts now, they risk not finishing jobs.
“It is best to play it safe whilst we find out exactly what the outcome of Brexit will be.”
He also recommended that they check their insurance is up to date and correct, as they may face uncertainty over wage roll structure and the changing status of who they employ.