Upon the UK’s exit from the EU, which was set for 29 March 2019 (and then extended to be set for 31 October 2019), free movement between the UK and the rest of the European Union was supposed to end. So, what does this mean for employers wanting to ensure they have the correct right to work documents in place?
Settlement Status: March 2019
From 30th March there will be a blanket period which is expected to last for two years, under which EU citizens who presently lawfully reside and work in the UK may continue to do so without their rights being affected. However, if they wish to remain after this period, they must apply for and obtain a settlement status. The settlement status application scheme will be fully open to the public from 30th March 2019. See below for more information about this scheme.
This means that there will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens working in the UK until at least 2021, but from 30th March 2019 your EU citizen workers will need to start applying for the settlement scheme if they wish to remain.
Therefore, from 2021 the requirements for right to work checks are expected to change. Checks may need to be made to ensure that EU citizens have an appropriate residence document which should indicate their immigration status and their permission to continue to work legally in the UK. An EU passport alone may no longer be evidence of a right to work in the UK for EU nationals.
Thereafter, EU citizens who do not have this settled status residence document will need an employer to sponsor them to be able to work in the UK. This is in accordance with The UK’s future skills-based immigration system which was published on the 19th December 2018.
Tier 2 Visa System: March 2019
The Government are looking at ways in which they can minimise bureaucratic red tape in the current tier 2 visa system for skilled non-EEA nationals, as part of what is being called a ‘lighter touch’ approach for the future. Currently, employers must apply for a license, face significant fees and can experience delays of up to several months before an individual can join them via this route.
The Government is reminding employers that they have a duty not to discriminate against EU citizens in light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU as both a prospective and current employer.