Are you doing everything you can to retain your EU staff?
The impact of losing European members of staff would be detrimental to most businesses, large and small. I will look briefly at the current status for European nationals in the UK and at the steps that employers can be taking now to support their employees in retaining their entitlement to reside and work lawfully in the UK.
Current Status of EU Nationals in the UK
EU nationals currently benefit from free movement provisions. These are expected to come to an end on 1 January 2021. All European nationals need to secure leave to remain under our domestic legislation if they are to retain their rights after the end of free movement. The EU Settlement Scheme is the mechanism for European nationals to secure their rights. The deadline for applications will be 30 June 2021, ideally though applications would be made before the end of free movement, by 31 December 2020.
If an EU national is required to register and they fail to do so, they will technically be residing unlawfully in the United Kingdom and will not be able to continue in work until they resolve their immigration status. The only EU nationals who are not required to register are Irish nationals, dual British citizens and EU nationals with indefinite leave to remain (which is not the same as permanent residence).
The Home Office has confirmed that there will be no change to right to work requirements for existing employees and that they will not be seeking to remove European nationals from the UK. Although enforcement will be light touch and European nationals will have the opportunity to apply late if they have not applied within the deadline, it would still be best for all EU employees to register on the scheme sooner rather than later.
Top Tips for Employers of an EU workforce
1. Ensure that all employees are aware of the EU Settlement Scheme and that those affected have the support and resource they need to make their application. You could provide links to Home Office guidance, time during the working day to apply, access to a PC and/or mobile device, advice workshops and/or one to one support.
2. Use this year to proactively consider who in your business will be impacted by Brexit and ensure that you have a mechanism for monitoring registration to the scheme. You will need to identify those who have not applied prior to the deadline and offer additional support as required.
3. Be alert to the new immigration system which will be introduced in January 2021. Use this to inform your recruitment planning for 2021 and beyond.