EU Workers wishing to settle in the UK post March 29

What do companies need to know

EU citizen settled status, employment guidance for UK firms

An estimated 2.28 million people, or roughly 7% of the UK workforce, are EU citizens. What happens to them post 29 March 2019?

Firms need to identify affected employees, whether EU citizens or family members of EU citizens, engage with staff and reassure them and ensure they are informed of their options. Any EU national residing in the UK before 31 December 2020 should have the right to settle in the UK.

The position of EU nationals and their family members will not immediately change after Brexit. They will continue to enjoy free movement and the ability to work, study and reside in the UK with few restrictions, until at least the end of the transition period, which is due to expire on 31 December 2020.

Under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) EU nationals and their family members wishing to remain in the UK after 31 December 2020 must register their presence and apply for either " Settled" status for those resident in the UK for five years or more, or "Pre-Settled" status for those resident in the UK for less than five years, who will then be eligible for "Settled" status after they achieve five years' residence. There will be no cost for the application. Applications can be made online via an app, however you will only be able to scan your identity document on the app with an Android phone or you will need to send your document to the home office in the post.

The scheme is expected to open on 29 March 2019, and employers should encourage employees to make applications as soon as possible to avoid a glut of applications at the end of the transition period. The scheme is anticipated to close on 30 June 2021, although those with pre-settled status will remain eligible to transfer to settled status.

The largest concern surrounding Brexit has been uncertainty. Therefore, employers should keep employees up to date with changes. An employer toolkit is available at:  www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-employer-toolkit.

Employers should take care in relation to EU nationals on or contemplating assignment outside the UK, as this may affect their eligibility to apply for settled or pre-settled status. Employers should also remain alive to the possibility of a no deal scenario and ensure they understand the risks and contingencies if the UK immigration system for non-EU citizens is implemented for EU citizens. Employers should consider bringing forward any recruitment campaigns to before 29 March 2019 in order to avoid potential recruitment issues.

For further help or legal advice concerning an employment issue please contact Wendy Davidson on 01733 882800 or email info@hcsolicitors.co.uk.

Author

Wendy Davidson, Solicitor

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This article has been prepared for general interest and information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. While all possible care has been taken in the preparation of this article, no responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by the firm or the authors.