Settled or Pre-Settled Status for EU Workers
On 31 January 2020 the United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU) and entered into a transitional period. As a result of this, EU nationals who are currently working, studying and/or living in the UK must now secure settled or pre-settled status (see below). If EU nationals wish to remain in the UK, they must apply for the relevant status during the transitional period and, more importantly, before the deadline of 30 June 2021, as set out in the EU Settlement Scheme.
The EU Settlement Scheme also applies to European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals. Irish nationals will however, continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now, provided they were resident in the UK on or before 31 December 2020. Those who were not will be subject to the new immigration rules.
Effective from 1 January 2021, new immigration rules apply to EU nationals and you can find more information here.
It is therefore advisable that employers consider how this could affect their businesses beyond June 2021 and how they can assist their employees in gaining settled or pre-settled status.
Settled Status vs. Pre-Settled Status
The difference between settled and pre-settled status can be found here. EU nationals cannot decide their own status and the decision will be based on eligibility criteria. The rights available to EU nationals will depend on their status.
Where EU nationals have settled status, they can spend up to five consecutive years outside the UK without losing their status. If however, an EU national has only pre-settled status, they can only spend up to two consecutive years outside the UK before they lose their status. Pre-settled EU nationals must maintain their continuous residency if they wish to qualify for a settled status later down the line.
EU nationals who fail to apply before 30 June 2021 may run the risk of losing their right to remain in the UK. If however, an EU national moved to the UK before it joined the EC (later the EU) on 1 January 1973, they will not need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to stay in the UK after 30 June 2021.
How can Employers help?
There are approximately 2.24 million EU nationals working within the UK. Employers looking to secure their EU workforce should consider how they can assist their employees with securing either settled or pre-settled status.
That said, the responsibility lies with the EU national to ensure that an application is made for themselves and their family. Employers can however, assist by ensuring EU nationals are fully aware of their rights and responsibilities with regard to securing the status applicable to them.
The Government has provided the following factsheets in connection with the EU Settlement Scheme, including details on how to apply. We would recommend that employers who employ EU nationals display the relevant information within the workplace and/or circulate it as required to raise awareness of the scheme:
Although it is not compulsory for employers to assist employees with their application, we would recommend they familiarise themselves with the process for application and the documentation required to facilitate the process.
Right to Work Checks
While the Government has suggested that the existing ‘right to work’ checks arrangement ceased at the end of 2020, we would still recommend them as it has openly encouraged employers to continue performing ‘right to work’ checks on an ongoing basis as best practice.
For more information on the EU Settlement Scheme, click here.