The UK care sector has 1.5 million people working in it and more than 100,000 unfilled vacancies, Hassan Ortega told the UNISON community service group conference in Cardiff at the weekend.
Around a quarter of a million of those jobs are held by non-UK nationals – with 115,000 of those workers being citizens of EU countries.
The new immigration bar outlined by home secretary Priti Patel in the week before the conference requires a minimum salary well above the care sector’s average for anyone coming to work in the UK, he told delegates.
Moving an emergency motion on promoting the EU settlement scheme to behalf of the service group executive, Mr Ortega warned delegates: “Britain is going to miss out on key staff.”
Conference welcomed UNISON’s initiative in working with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants to provide a free immigration helpline for members.
But it noted that many EU nationals have not yet applied for EU settled status under the government’s scheme and they need to do so by the end of this year.
It agreed to work with the rest of the union to promote the scheme and work with political parties across the UK to “secure the rights of UNISON members who are EU27 citizens delivering public services in the UK”.