In amongst the Coronavirus pandemic, the Brexit transition period comes to an end on 31 December 2021. This means that free movement of EU nationals ends too. Individuals who are EU citizens will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue to live, work and study in the UK beyond 30 June 2021.
You will need to review how this affects your business. Do you employ EU nationals?
Eligibility under the EU Settlement Scheme
To apply to the EU Settlement Scheme an individual must have;
- Started living in the UK by 31 December 2020.
- Lived in the UK for a continuous 5-year period (continuous residence).
If an individual does not have 5 years continuous residence they can apply for a pre-settled status. The individual can stay for a further 5 years from the date of the pre-settled status, and then once they have continuous residence can apply to change to settled status.
The deadline for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme is 30 June 2021.
What are your obligations?
There is no legal obligation for you to communicate the EU Settlement Scheme to your employees, however, you may wish to direct employees to information that the government is providing.
It is up to the individual to make an application to the EU Settlement Scheme. There is no requirement for them to inform you, as their employer, that they have applied or the outcome of the application. You have a duty to not discriminate against EU nationals, for example, you cannot make an offer of employment, dependent on an individual having made an application to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Up until 30 June 2021, you can continue to rely on EU passports or national ID cards.
Employers must also be aware that it is a criminal offence to have an employee working for you who has no right to work in the UK. This could end up being an unlimited fine and up to 5 years in prison. This is not a position you want to be in.
Tips for businesses!
- There is a commercial balance to be struck here and employers will need to be careful. Prior to 30 June your existing right to work checks can remain in place, however, after this date you need to make sure that you have everything in place.
- We would advise that a blanket communication is sent to all staff (irrespective of whether it relates to them or not) to signpost them to the EU Settlement Scheme and to make sure that they apply within the timeframe if it applies to them. Although the onus is on the individual to ensure that they have the correct right to work documents, you as a business do not want to be in a position where you are employing illegal workers.
- Add 30 June 2021 to your diary and review your workforce at that point.
- Think about training those who usually obtain and check the relevant documents at the recruitment/onboarding stage, make sure they are aware of what they need to be looking out for.
It is crucial to think about the impact on your business and have a plan on how you will manage this going forward. We strongly advise that you contact us with regards to any employment concerns. Our Employment Law Solicitors and HR Consultants are here to help!