From 1 July 2021, EU citizens and their family members wanting to continue to live in the UK must hold lawful immigration status under the EU settlement scheme.
EU citizens and their family members with settled status will have the right to remain in the UK indefinitely and have access, as they currently do, to healthcare, pensions and other benefits.
There will be no change to EU citizens’ current rights in the UK until the end of June 2021.
The settlement scheme does not apply to EU nationals with indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship, or to Irish citizens.
Settled Status in the UK - What do employers have to do
For employers in the UK, the key considerations of the EU settlement scheme are:
- Current right to work document checks continue to apply
- You are under a duty not to discriminate against EU citizens in light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, both as a prospective and current employer
- It is the employee’s responsibility to make an application to the EU settlement scheme
- You will not be required to undertake retrospective checks on existing EU employees when the UK transitions to the future skills-based immigration system
- There is no legal obligation for you to communicate the EU settlement scheme, however you may wish to signpost the information the Government is providing
- You should not interpret information provided by the Government and you must be careful not to provide advice, unless you are qualified to do so
Advice for employers on settled status in the UK
For UK employers, the new settled status raises a number of considerations.
While you are not legally obliged to communicate the EU settlement scheme to your workforce or expected to support your EU citizen employees with an application, taking a proactive approach will provide a more positive and open working environment.
Ensuring your workforce has access to up-to-date information will help to inform and reassure them of any concerns.
With the new scheme will come an inevitable need to police EU citizens’ immigration status. We expect this will fall to UK employers as part of their right to work document checks, following an update to the Home Office’s lists of acceptable documents.
From an HR and Employment Law compliance perspective, now is an excellent time for employers to ensure all relevant organisational policies and processes from recruitment, on-boarding, are compliant with right to work duties. Policies should not discriminate against individuals on the basis of nationality, and all businesses should have someone who is adequately trained to perform document checks.
Our risk management team can provide further guidance on how best to engage with EU workers through implementation or answer any queries about the EU settlement scheme and how this can affect your business or employees.