How to inform your staff about the EU Settlement Scheme ahead of the June deadline
From 1st January, a new immigration system came into place in the UK, coinciding with the end of UK’s EU membership. Ahead of this, the government announced an EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) that would enable EU nationals living in the UK before 31st December 2020 to remain in the country following Brexit.
With Brexit having now taken place, many employers may be asking what they need to do now to prepare their staff for the scheme.
The EUSS will end on 30th June 2021. However, applicants must act quickly to guarantee their status under the scheme and avoid missing the deadline.
If you are a business that employs EU nationals, it is beneficial to provide appropriate information to your relevant staff members so that they may apply if they wish to remain in the UK for the future.
This blog has outlined how the EU Settlement Scheme works and what guidance you should look to give your employees ahead of 30th June.
- What is the EU settlement scheme?
- What happens after the deadline?
- What information should I give my staff?
What is the EU settlement scheme?
The EU Settlement Scheme was created to offer EU/EEA citizens and their families living in the UK the chance to continue to reside here, even after Brexit ended the free movement of people under the EU single market. They do not need to apply to the scheme if they already have British citizenship or have indefinite leave to remain.
Under the scheme, you will be granted one of two statuses:
- Pre-settled status, for those living in the UK for less than five years.
- Settled status, for those living continuously in the UK for over five years.
For those who are grant pre-settled status, they will have five years to remain in the country. After this point, if they wish to continue living here, they will need to apply for settled status, which allows you to stay indefinitely.
Any status will apply to the applicant and any close family members, providing your relationship with them began before the 31st December 2020. A full list of who is eligible to apply can be viewed on the government website.
The scheme is free to apply to, and applicants will need to provide proof of identity (such as a passport or identity card) and residence in the UK (such as your national insurance number or other supporting documentation).
What happens after the deadline?
There has been no explicit information regarding what will happen to EU citizens without the required status after the EUSS deadline on 30th June 2021. However, individuals risk becoming ‘unlawful residents’ without it, losing their right to work, live and access healthcare in the UK. This means they may face eviction from their homes, dismissal from work and deportation.
It is worth mention that, although applications close on the 30th June, nobody should wait until this date to apply. From July, they will only be protected by having appropriate status, not by having sent an application. As such, they should leave plenty of time before they apply to ensure they gain the status in time. The current processing time is about five working days, but this can be up to a month, depending on their application.
If they miss the deadline, the Home Office is only obliged to accept their application if they have reasonable grounds for the delay.
What information should I give my staff?
Employers have no legal obligation to inform their staff about the EUSS. That being said, if you know that you employ individuals who come from the EU, it is worth making sure they are aware of the scheme. This will enable them to remain in the UK if that is their wish and prevent you from being left with unwelcome skill gaps in your business.
While the application is entirely down to the individual, you may wish to support your relevant employees. This means informing them about the EUSS and pointing them in the direction of the relevant information, such as that provided by the government or via the employer toolkit. It may also be worth notifying them of the deadline date of June 2021.
Beyond this, there is little employers need to do. You must not ask your staff if they have applied to the scheme or attempt to get them to do so; similarly, you must not discriminate against anyone who has or hasn’t applied under the scheme.
After 1st July 2021, you will be required to carry out right to work checks on any non-UK citizens you employ. However, this will not be required on existing employees before this point.
If you are looking to recruit an EU citizen who does not already reside in the UK and is not eligible for settlement, you need to adhere to the new immigration system to enable them to move for work. You can find out more about recruiting overseas talent after Brexit in our guide.
If you employ EU citizens and need advice on how the EUSS may impact your business, or how your future employment could be affected by Brexit, we are here to help.
Our team of advisors have expertise across a range of critical topics facing businesses post-EU, including employment and recruitment. As such, we can provide tailored advice for your operations to help you overcome the obstacles you are facing.