With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, you could be forgiven for forgetting about that other major game-changer this year: Brexit.
Yes, despite the fact that it’s barely been whispered about on our news channels since March, Brexit is still happening by the December 2020 deadline, according to the UK government.
This means that there is less than six weeks before changes are made around immigration, as Freedom of Movement will cease at 11pm on December 31 this year.
So, in order for EU/EFTA citizens to live and work in the UK, they must apply for settlement status.
The Government launched the EU Settlement Scheme on March 30 last year, and there have been more than four million applications so far. However, there are still many employees / candidates who have not submitted their application yet.
As employers and business owners, it is important that we encourage workers to apply as soon as possible while applications are fairly easy and free.
Once employees / candidates have applied, as citizens they will be given either:
- Settled Status – EU/EFTA citizens and their families who will have been continuously resident in the UK for over 5 years by December 31, 2020.
- Pre-Settled Status – EU/EFTA citizens and their families who have been living in the UK by December 31, 2020 (but for less than 5 years).
Those with ‘Pre-Settled’ status will then be able to go on to apply for ‘Settled’ status once they have lived in the UK for 5 years.
The deadline for applications is June 30, 2021 but, in order to count as a citizen, that individual must have already been living in the UK by December 31 of this year.
Until June 30, 2021, there is no legal basis for an employee to have to provide their settlement status to an employer. However, providing support for your employees now could prevent any stress on both sides in the future.
Until this date, recruitment compliance teams can and should accept Passport or National Identity Card as they normally would. However, if the employee / candidate has settlement status they will be issued with a share code to provide which can be quickly checked on GOV.UK where a document is issued to store as Right to Work.
Additionally, for employers from January 1, 2021, you’ll need to have a sponsor licence to hire most workers from outside the UK – and there are restrictions on this. The UK government’s variation on the current ‘Points Based’ system goes live from 9am on December 1 – although some of the details are still being finalised.
The UK government continue to update their Brexit information for both employees / candidates and employers on their website. Alternatively, you can get in touch with the HRC Compliance team who would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.