There are a lot of press headlines begin written as 'BREXIT' closes in. With lots of information being shared, we've written this blog to help those business owners who employ EU Nationals and want to fully understand what this all means for their valued staff.
UK membership of the European Union (EU) is set to end on the 29th March 2019.
The UK and EU are still to agree a transition period for employers to adjust and the hope is for this to be agreed by 29th March 2019. The proposed transition period is from 29th March 2019 through to 31st December 2020. By the end of the agreed transition period, all EU nationals and their family members, who reside in the UK, will need to apply for ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme.
EU citizens are citizens of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. A citizen of the EU currently has the right to free movement, settlement and employment across the EU.
EU citizens do not need to do anything in particular prior to the proposed transition period, which is expected to be 29th March 2019 to 31st December 2020.
Free movement will continue until the end of the transitional period.
EU Settlement Scheme
The registration process will begin in 2019. Those EU Nationals, who are resident in the UK by 31st December 2020 will have until 30th June 2021 to make an application, during which their rights will remain unchanged until then.
EU citizens arriving in the UK up to 31st December 2020 will be able to be bring over family members such as grandparents. Alternatively, family members from the EU can join their families after 2020, as long as their relationship existed prior to 31st December 2020.
If any EU nationals have been a resident for less than 5 years (from the date they arrive in the UK), they will be eligible for pre-settled status. Pre-settled status gives EU nationals the right to stay in the UK for a further 5 years from the date they are granted this status before they can apply for settled status.
It will be free to apply if:
EU citizens are applying to move from pre-settled statue to settled status
EU citizens already have indefinite leave to remain or a valid permanent residence document
EU citizens, who have lived in the UK continuously for five years or more (from the date they arrive in the UK) and are not a serious or persistent criminal, or a threat to national security, will be able to apply for the ‘settled’ status. EU citizens can apply for the ‘settled’ status via a digital process which should take no more than 15 minutes to complete and decisions will be made within a couple of weeks, at a cost of:
£65 for adults
£32.50 for children under the age of 16
Agreed ‘settled’ status means EU citizens will be eligible for:
British citizenship – if EU nationals want to apply and meet the requirements
Public services, such as schools and NHS
Public funds and pension
Settled status will give EU citizens the same rights and conditions as those currently enjoyed by EU citizens.
UK Government has released a toolkit for Employers to spread awareness of the need for employees to make an application and to avoid finding themselves unlawfully in the UK. The toolkit that has been released consists of:
Key information that Employers need to know
Posters that can be placed in communal areas spreading the information
Information that can be used for webinars, face-to-face events or presentations with EU citizen employees
Leaflets which can be provided to EU citizen employees
There was speculation as to whether EU regulations, such as Working Time Directive, TUPE, discrimination legislation and collective consultation, would remain once the UK has left the EU. The Government has given assurance that they would retain any employment protection provisions and employees will still be entitled to:
A maximum 48-hour working week, unless they have opted out
Rest breaks during the working day and night
Employers cannot advise their employees on any immigration matters without the necessary accreditation. Employers are not obliged to provide information to their employees in regard to applying for ‘settled’ status. There is no obligation for employers to contribute to the cost of EU citizen employees making applications.
What should employers do next?
There are several things that Employers should do to support the EU nationals who are employed within the company:
Provide them information of the settled and pre-settled status
Place posters up in the communal areas within the workplace from the EU Government Toolkit
Provide leaflets to EU nationals from the EU Government Toolkit
Stay informed through eucitizensrights.campaign.gov.uk
We are already working with clients to ensure their affected employees are kept up to date, and to help them navigate through this set of circumstance.
If your business is affected as well, we can help. Call us today on 01722 325833 for a confidential conversation, or email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.