With the ‘Brexit’ deadline slowly but surely creeping up on us, one of the big questions on employers’ minds is: How will Brexit affect my business?
It remains unclear whether the UK will depart the EU with or without a deal. However, as the saying goes, in these scenarios it is sensible to “prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
EU Settlement Scheme
All EU, EEA and Swiss nationals (and their family members) living in the UK before the country departs the EU must make an application to the EU Settlement Scheme to enable them to legally continue to live and work in the UK after 30th June 2021. The application deadline is 31st December 2020. As employers, you should encourage your affected employees to apply as soon as possible to avoid any delays with processing their applications. If they are granted settlement or pre-settlement status then your business will experience less disruption after the deadline date. If your affected employees do not make an application on time, they will lose their right to live and work in the UK. This will have an immediate impact on your business as you will need to recruit and train new members of staff.
Irish citizens in the UK do not need to apply for settlement status. They continue to enjoy the right to live and work in the UK as Ireland is within the Common Travel Area. This agreement between the UK, the Crown Dependencies and Ireland was entered into long before either country joined the EU and will remain effective once the UK leaves the EU.
Right to Work Checks
There will be no change to how EU, EEA and Swiss nationals prove their right to work in the UK until January 2021. Businesses can continue to accept EU passports and national identity cards as proof of their employees right to work in the UK until this date. Some employees may decide to use the Home Office online service if they have been granted status under the EU Settlement scheme, however, this is not a requirement and you should not insist on this. The government has set up a mailing list that employers can sign up to which provides updates on the application process and intended commencement date. Employers with EU staff should sign up to this mailing list in order to learn of any updates and should encourage affected employees to do the same. Should you wish to sign up to these updates, please visit the government website.
Supporting your Employees
Your employees may need some extra support in this time of uncertainty. Good communication is essential for the mental wellbeing of employees. It is also important to reassure employees that if they do apply for the settled or pre-settled status then they will not lose any rights within the workplace. Employers should begin to look at ways in which they can support staff through the application process, and beyond, whether that may be assisting with the fee or helping with the actual application or simply implementing measures whereby, their affected employees have someone to talk to about their fears and/or lack of knowledge about the process.
If you have any queries on this or any other matter relating to employment law, please do not hesitate to contact us