With Brexit arrangements still in the air, we set out below some guidance on what employers should be thinking about regarding their EU workers and news about the Government EU settlement scheme.
You should consider carrying out an audit of your workforce to understand who is affected by Brexit and include in that audit their family members to ensure that if anyone needs any advice or assistance they know where to go – the Government website at https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-families provides detailed information.
In the event of no deal, any employees who do not have formal documents showing their residency who are travelling back to the UK on or after 30th March this year, should take evidence of their qualified status, e.g. their contract of employment.
The EU Settlement Scheme
The EU Settlement Scheme allows EU citizens to apply for settled status once they have completed 5 continuous years in the UK with pre-settled status in other cases.
Applications to the Scheme open on 21st January 2019 to EU citizens and their non-EU citizen family members who hold a valid Biometric residence card; it will be fully open from 30th March 2019. Anyone currently living in the UK who is an EU citizen will have to apply to it by 30th June 2021 to be allowed to stay in the country, even if they are married to a British citizen. Adults will need to apply on behalf of their children.
The Government has waived the proposed application fee.
Irish Citizens, those with Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) or those born in the UK who have at least one parent with settled status do not need to apply.
Successful applications will be granted either settled or pre-settled status. Settled status will grant the person the same rights to healthcare, education, benefits and pensions as a British citizen – this is open to people who have lived in the UK for five years by the end of 2020.
Pre-settled status is available for someone from an EU country who lives in the UK but has not been here for five years – this allows the person to stay in the UK until they reach five years, when they will need to claim settled status.
To apply under the Settlement Scheme, applicants will need to fill in a form online, via post or a smartphone app (at present this is Android only).
It is unclear what will happen in the event of a no deal Brexit although the Government has said that it will guarantee rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK.
If an employee is applying or intends to apply for naturalisation as a British Citizen, one point of note is that if they apply under the current EEA Permanent Residency scheme, their permanent residency can be backdated to the point at which they completed five years in the UK whereas under the new Settlement Scheme it cannot be backdated.