With much trepidation for everyone following the year that we have all experienced, it would be easy to forget the word Brexit and Free Movement amongst all of the news.
However, as we are fast approaching the end of the year (and who can’t wait to see the back of 2020), we thought it of benefit to provide again details regarding employing new staff and also those currently in your workforce who are EU, EEA or Swiss citizens. As many of our HR admin clients know we have worked hard during the past few months to work with their staff in relation to their intentions of applying for Settled, Pre-settled status or whether in fact they were going to return to their home countries (this has certainly helped with client workforce planning).
The project was undertaken so that rather than our client staff being caught up in the bottle neck of applications during the Grace period (1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021) it helped focus individuals to make their applications in good time, rather than run the risk of not being able to continue to work after 30 June 2021. It has been hugely successful and we are comfortable in knowing that a lot of pre-planning will be of benefit for all concerned as Free movement ends on 31 December 2020 at 11:00pm GMT.
During the first 6 months of 2021 employers conducting right to work checks on European nationals will be directed to the Right to Work checklist on the gov.uk website https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-work-checklist and can accept a valid European passport or National ID card as sufficient proof of right to work. However it does not necessarily mean that these individuals will have an underlying right of residence in the UK, as they will still need to make their application for Settled or Pre-Settled status by 30 June 2021, but that does not need to be provided to you as their employer until after 30 June 2021.
It is crucial that all of your new and current employees that are European nationals must hold or have already made an application under the EU Settlement Scheme to retain their ability to work and live in the UK by 30 June 2021, as from 1 July 2020 they may find it difficult to provide evidence of their right to work, and in turn may jeopardise them holding a bank account, renting a property or accessing the UK healthcare. Given the impact of COVID and therefore the resources available to process applications, it is anticipated that towards the end of the Grace period that there will be a last minute hike in applications. However, it is important to stress to an employee that it is not a mandatory request but voluntarily provided by the employee, as it is also in their interest to ensure that they get the correct status that they are entitled to (Pre or Settled).
European workers who start employment in the UK between 1 January 2021 – 30 June 2021
Europeans who are living in the UK by 31 December 2021 are eligible to apply for the Pre or Settled status. However, if they arrive in the UK from 1 January 2021 onwards they will require a visa to live and work in the UK. Employers should still continue to conduct Right to Work checks on the basis of a EU passport or National ID card, but the employee may not have the right to work from 1 July 2021, so you should also request a voluntary disclosure from the employee that they arrived in the UK before 1 January 2021. Proof for example may be their annual bank statement, council tax bills, property rental or mortgage agreement.
The latest information and guidance can always be found on the Gov.UK website EU Settlement Scheme: evidence of UK residence – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The team at Black Mountain are always on hand to provide guidance, but please note that we are not Immigration Specialists.
At the time of writing the UK still does not have a deal for Brexit. However, the above is not subject to change even in the event of a no deal.