An update - European Employees and Volunteers post Brexit

On the 31 January 2020, the UK left the European Union. The transitional arrangements are now in place for EEA nationals, but how can employers prepare? What of those EEA nationals who work for you as employees and volunteers?

From 30 June 2021 all EU nationals must hold one of two statuses – settled status or pre-settled status. Settled Status is confirmation for EU nationals who have lived in the UK for five or more years; pre-settled status is for those EEA nationals who have lived in the UK for less than that time.

EU nationals will need to take three steps:

  • prove their identity,
  • prove they live in the UK, and
  • disclose they have no ‘serious criminal convictions’.

Employers are advised to offer assistance to employees and volunteers, and indeed any individual affected within their community. Many EU nationals remain unaware of the need to pursue confirmation of their status. The impact of not applying is yet unknown.

However, the Home Office could suggest that the individual, if not registered on the scheme, is unlawfully in the UK. The individual may then be required to leave, or in a worst case scenario, be forcibly removed from the UK. The Home Office may determine that employers are employing the individual unlawfully, which could result in a serious penalty, such as a £20,000 fine.

All employers will of course have conducted right to work checks for their current employees, and they will be able to obtain a list of EU national employees from this list. It is suggested that action is taken now to ensure compliance in the future.

The Government have proposed to overhaul the UK’s current immigration system and further information is awaited as to what will happen following the end of the transitional arrangements. It has been proposed that that European nationals will be subjected to the same immigration rules as non-European nationals however it is important to remember this this will not affect EU employees who are already employed in the UK.

Employers should be reviewing their current recruitment practices in readiness for the end of the transitional arrangements and implementation of a new immigration system, especially those dependent on European workers and volunteers. If you require any immigration support, please contact Julie Moktadir, a partner in our immigration team.

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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