The new immigration rules will apply after 11.00pm on 31 December 2020. EEA nationals living in the UK at that time will have until 30 June 2021 to apply for immigration status under the EU Settlement Scheme (“EUSS”) to remain in the UK legally.
EEA nationals entering the UK from 1 January 2021 will have to meet the same requirements to work in the UK as non-EEA nationals under the UK’s new immigration rules.
In most cases they will need to be sponsored by their employers to work in the UK.
From 1 January 2021 employers will require a sponsor licence in order to hire workers from outside the UK (with the exception of Irish nationals). To obtain a sponsor licence, employers can apply online at the Home Office website.
Raising the Topic with your Employees from the EEA
To avoid discrimination against EU nationals, the Home Office is advising employers not to ask existing employees to prove their status until after 30th June 2021.
Although, being mindful of our duty as employers to prevent illegal working, you may wish to raise the issue before then because if an employee does not have settled or pre-settled status on or after 1 July 2021, they are likely to be working illegally.
So, in the meantime, you can signpost the EUSS and encourage employees to make an application to stay in the UK if they need to do so. And don’t forget to remind them of the deadline!
Things to do now:
1. Consider conducting a right to work audit to ensure all your workers have the right to work in the UK. To avoid discrimination this should not just be targeted at non-UK nationals.
2. Signpost the need to make an application for EU Settled Status prior to 30 June 2021 and highlight that a failure to do so may result in the employee no longer having the right to work in the UK post 30 June 2021.
If an employee voluntarily provides you will evidence of their pre-settled or settled status keep a record of the check as you do not need to carry out retrospective checks on existing employees who have provided you with evidence of their right to work. If you’re looking for some guidance on checking EU settlement applications in order to comply with right to work legislation, find our guidance here.
3. Diarise communications to employees at intervals prior to 30 June 2021 deadline reminding them of the need to make an application for EU Settled Status and encouraging them to make an application if they haven’t already done so.
4. Diarise to speak to any employees who have not provided evidence of their settled status or pre-settled status by 1st July 2021 and take appropriate steps to manage any employees who no longer have the right to work in the UK. (NB as a matter of good practise you should diarise to conduct follow up checks in respect of any employees who have a time limited permission to live and work in the UK or require a document to evidence their right)
5. Make an application for a sponsorship licence if you are not already a sponsor and intend employ non-UK national post 1st January 2021.
6. Download our full guidance note which goes into further detail of all of the above, as well as covering sponsored business-related immigration, requirements to become a sponsor, reporting duties of sponsors and the immigration skills charge.