Heathrow airport to offer European workers financial help after Brexit

Heathrow is to offer thousands of its European workers financial help to try to secure their place in the UK after Brexit, telling Sky News that its workers are having to deal with an “extraordinarily stressful” situation.

The airport is going to set aside hundreds of thousands of pounds to help European Union workers to apply for “settled status”, which will enable them to carry on working in the UK after Brexit. It’s believed that up to 2,600 people who work at the airport could make applications.

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive, told Sky News that the plan was “to give confidence to people who play a valuable role” in maintaining Heathrow’s role as a hub airport.

A plane lands at Heathrow Airport
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Heathrow is offering to help thousands of its European workers to secure their place in the UK

He said: “We’ve seen a lot of anxiety. People have to make decisions about their families, housing, schooling.

“This has a big impact on their lives and creates quite a lot of anxiety for them. It’s extraordinarily stressful for them – how can you bring your best self to work every day if you’re worrying about those things.

“And yet these are valued parts of our team. They provide a hugely important role for an international business like ours in giving us a range of languages and a range of different cultural insights. We’re probably the most diverse place on the planet and we need to have an international team here.

“We’re the UK’s biggest port and we’re expanding and, as we leave the EU, ironically we now really need those international people working here to make a success of that.

“So we think a responsible employer like Heathrow needs to take a stand, not just to protect our own team but to encourage other companies to do the same thing.”

Heathrow says its workers are dealing with an 'extraordinarily stressful' situation with Brexit
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Heathrow says its workers are dealing with an ‘extraordinarily stressful’ situation with Brexit

Heathrow says it is also guaranteeing 30-day payment terms through Brexit in order to soothe the nerves of small and medium-sized companies in its supply chain. The airport giant is also offering the London living wage, and has decided to stop using zero-hours contracts.

But Mr Holland-Kaye shares the desire for clarity that has become such a familiar call from British business, and told Sky News that he thought tariffs could have “very damaging” effects on the economy, and on the smooth functioning of trade passing through borders.

Air freight has been regularly cited as a solution to potential delays at Dover and Calais. He told me that it could play a part, but not offer anything like a full answer.

“We do have some capacity on short haul routes and those will help with the delivery of just-in-time goods or things that have a very short shelf life coming into the country,” he told me.

“But they can’t cope with the vast bulk of goods that are traded to and from the continent, most of which go through ports like Dover or through the tunnel.

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“So I don’t think we can expect aviation to cover that challenge. It’s vital for the country that we have a clear plan of what we’re going to do.

“If we have certainty for business then we can plan in a transition period to decide how we leave the European Union and then we can ensure that Britain really thrives and makes a success of leaving the European Union.”

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