Written by NICOLA GATER

Brexit is fast approaching and in this current phase of uncertainty about what exactly is going to happen moving forward, we’re aware that it can be a confusing time for employers and particularly unsettling for European nationals. Learn how you can support EU nationals that are a part of your workforce.

We have partnered up with our trusted solicitors, Herrington Carmichael – to provide some guidance on the role you can play in reassuring your European workers and how you can help them navigate the registration process.

The facts and what we know to date:

  • If an EU national has lived in the UK for 5 continuous years, they will be able to apply for “Settled Status” which will ensure they can continue to live and work here in the UK as long as they wish.
  • If an EU National hasn’t yet lived here for 5 continuous years, they can apply for “Pre-settled Status” which will mean that they can continue to live and work here in the UK and then apply for “Settled Status” when they do have 5 continuous years of residence.
  • The online application system is still in test phase and it will open fully on 30th March 2019 so it isn’t essential for anyone to do anything yet. However, if people want to do so, and if they have an EU passport and an Android phone, they can access the test phase now to apply.
  • It will be compulsory for all EU Citizens to be registered by 30 June 2021 if they want to continue to reside in the UK. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the deadline for applying will be 31st December 2020.
  • The registration fee of £65 has now been scrapped.  If applicants pay or have paid during the test phase, they will be refunded automatically once the full system is open.

What you can be doing as an employer:

  • If you haven’t done so already it’s worth being aware of who in your workforce will be impacted.
  • Take an active role in encouraging employees to consider their status early on and apply for the most appropriate documentation for them.
  • Many employers are choosing to offer practical support and resources to their employees, for example hosting information workshops by immigration experts to provide up-to-date information.
  • You could provide time and a desk/PC at work to access the registration website, and perhaps a buddy to support them through the process and understand the requirements, especially if form filling and admin does not come naturally to them.
  • You can make use of the government’s employer EU settlement scheme toolkit, which provides fact sheets, posters and videos to help you to raise awareness among your employees.
  • We would encourage all employers to undertake full right to work checks on employees in May 2021, well before the EU settlement scheme deadline for applications on 30th June 2021 (31st December 2020 if we leave without a deal). This will help ensure that your workforce still have the right to work for you in the UK. In the event of a no-deal, employers should be diarising right to work checks for October 2020, so anyone who needs to still has time to apply before the December 2020 deadline. Please note – a new online right to work check came into force on 28 January 2019. A new guide is available here 

Imelda Reddington, Business Immigration Solicitor at Herrington Carmichael commented: “With Brexit just around the corner, I recommend that businesses invest time and resources into safeguarding the status of their European workforce. The cost implications and the commercial risk in not doing this could be damaging.”

Useful resources helpful to you and your employees

We will be joining forces with Herrington Carmichael on the 14th May to host a Brexit seminar – this event will be free of charge. For more information please email: training@realityhr.co.uk or call us on: 01256 328428