The impact of Brexit on EU workers
3 September 2019
We have summarised our advice to schools on the rights of their EU workers and schools' obligations leading up to and after Brexit below. We refer to 'EU workers' throughout, which includes EEA and Swiss nationals.
What rights will EU workers have?
Those who have been in the UK legally for 5 years before the end of either the implementation period or exit day (depending on whether we leave the EU with or without a deal) will be able to apply for 'settled status' to stay indefinitely. If EU citizens have been in the UK for fewer than 5 years by this date, they can apply for pre-settled status until they have 5 years' continuous residence, when they can apply for settled status. We haven't set out the process for applying for settled status here, but further information is available in the Government's 'employer toolkit' (link below). If EU nationals have not acquired settled status by the deadline date, they will be considered illegal immigrants and subject to removal from the UK.
If the UK leaves the EU with a deal
If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, it has been agreed that there will be an 'implementation period' from exit day to 31 December 2020. During the implementation period, free movement will continue between the UK and EU and the settlement scheme will be open to EU nationals resident in the UK by the end of this period.
If the UK leave the EU without a deal
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the EU settlement scheme will still run, but it would only apply for those EU nationals resident in the UK by exit day, as there would be no implementation period.
Employer's obligations and employing EU nationals post-Brexit
There is no obligation for schools to tell their staff about the Settlement Scheme, but the government have published a 'toolkit' for employers, which includes leaflets and briefing notes, to provide information to staff, available here.
You should continue to check all workers, including EU workers, right to work as usual. A passport or national identity card showing that the individual is an EU national is acceptable for this purpose. If you have any workers from outside the EU, you will need to check different documents and the Government's guidance on the acceptable documents is available here.
When conducting 'manual' right to work checks, you should ensure that you obtain the original documents, check them to ensure that the photos and dates of birth are consistent, that they appear genuine and take a copy of them, then write on the copy to confirm the date on which you conducted the check.
There will be no change to the way EU citizens prove their right to work until 1 January 2021, when the new immigration system is expected to come into force. You will not be required to undertake retrospective checks on existing UK employees at this point, although different checks will be required for new employees and the government guidance will be updated once the scheme is finalised.
Please note that this summary is for general guidance only - if you need more specific advice, please contact Natasha Letchford or your usual Wilsons contact.
Please note that we are not specialist immigration law advisors and there may be cases where you need to obtain advice from an immigration specialist.