We’re well into November and it is only a few weeks now until the transition period is over for the UK’s departure from the EU. This means employers and employees alike should take steps now to prepare.
Under the terms of the EU Settlement Scheme, all EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, and their eligible family members, who are living in the UK before the end of the transition period (which is 31 December 2020), have the opportunity to remain as UK residents.
But they need to apply to do so, and the application process is being slowed down by the Coronavirus pandemic. The deadline for application is 30 June 2021, and the process is free.
If you employ EU, EEA or Swiss nationals in your business, it is essential you help make them aware of the need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme without delay, to ensure they can continue to live and work in the UK after 30 June next year. Otherwise, you face losing some of your workforce.
How many apply for EU settled or pre-settled status?
What is settled status?
You’ll usually get settled status if you’ve:
- started living in the UK by 31 December 2020
- lived in the UK for a continuous 5-year period (known as ‘continuous residence’)
What is pre-settled status?
If you do not have 5 years’ continuous residence when you apply, you’ll usually get pre-settled status. You must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020. You can then apply to change this to settled status once you’ve got 5 years’ continuous residence. You must do this before your pre-settled status expires.
Even if you hold a permanent residence card, or have been here for a very long time, you still need to apply to the EUSS. Individuals with indefinite leave to enter the UK, indefinite leave to remain in the UK and nationals of the Republic of Ireland do not have to apply.
Latest Home Office figures show that there have been more than four million applications so far, with many more predicted to be made before the deadline expires. So far, nearly 3.8 million grants of status have been issued. What we don’t know, though, is how many need to apply.
A survey of EU migrants conducted by the Social Market Foundation showed the EU Settlement Scheme is poorly understood. Barely half of interviewees were aware of the EUSS. Even among those intending to stay in the UK past the cut off point for applying to the scheme, over 40% said they were unaware of it.
How to apply for settled and pre-settled status
The application process is relatively straightforward. You’ll need proof of ID (such as a valid passport or national identity card).
Documents can be scanned using the EU Exit: ID Document Check app or sent by post.
You can find more information, and a link for the application process here.
Employing EU and non-EU nationals
From 1 January 2021, a new immigration system will be in place to cover the employment both of EU and non-EU nationals. EU nationals arriving after this date will need a visa to be allowed to live and work in the UK.
This could have an impact on the labour supply, particularly for sectors relying on low skilled EU nationals.
Plans should be made now by employers to look at ways to overcome any labour shortfalls and – as we have stressed – encourage current staff to apply to remain under the EUSS rules.
Added to this mix, the complication of Covid related travel restrictions which are changing regularly.
How businesses can prepare
As well as encouraging employees to apply for settled status, where applicable, businesses can take advantage of a wealth of information available.
To support business preparations the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is hosting free, on-demand webinars to help employers check the new rules and what actions they need to take.
The webinars cover a number of sectors, including retail, construction, automotive, services and investment, and many others, and provide a valuable insight into steps you need to take for your business. You can find more details here.
There is also up-to-date news available on the UK transition available by subscribing to government’s business bulletin – you can subscribe here.
Videos exploring different aspects of the transition have been produced, which you can view here:
Here are further useful links to help you, as an employer, navigate your business through transition:
- Transition checker tool: https://www.gov.uk/transition-check/questions
- EORI information: http://www.gov.uk/eori
- Importing and exporting goods between GB and EU from 1 January 2021: http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-import-and-export-goods-between-great-britain-and-the-eu-from-1-january-2021
- Northern Ireland Protocol: http://www.gov.uk/guidance/trader-support-service
- Hiring from the EU: http://www.gov.uk/hiringfromtheeu
- Employer guide for points-based immigration system: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-points-based-immigration-system-employer-information/the-uks-points-based-immigration-system-an-introduction-for-employers
- Services trade with the EU: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/providing-services-to-any-country-in-the-eu-iceland-liechtenstein-norway-or-switzerland-after-eu-exit
- Visiting Europe post-transition: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021
- Structuring your business: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/structuring-your-business-from-1-january-2021
- Using personal data: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/using-personal-data-after-brexit
- ICO website: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-at-the-end-of-the-transition-period/
If you have concerns or issues regarding EU employment status, or would like to talk to the 24-7 Staffing resourcing team about personnel for your business, please do get in touch.
24-7 Staffing works with employers and jobseekers across Chippenham, Bristol, Salisbury, Wiltshire and the South West, primarily placing workers in the driving, commercial, industrial and healthcare sectors.