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The Future of EU Nationals Working in the UK

The Brexit headlines are hard to miss. After 31 December 2020, the transition period has ended. However, not everything has changed overnight, and this is the case for EU nationals already living and working in the UK.

It’s important to remember that EEA and Swiss nationals who have arrived in the UK in 2021 do need a visa to work in the UK and will not usually be able to apply for settled or pre-settled status.

Under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, EU employment law has been converted (as it was before Brexit) into UK law. The Employment Rights (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 make some small technical changes and introduce new provisions intended to preserve UK-located European Works Councils but employment law will otherwise remain the same for the time being.

Here are three important areas to consider.

The EU Settlement Scheme

In respect of Brexit and employment, one of the key considerations is the future of EU nationals living and working in the UK. EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens and their families can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme in order to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. In most cases, they must usually have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020. The scheme is open and is free of charge. If an application is successful then settled or pre-settled status will be granted. Irish citizens and individuals with indefinite leave to remain are able to stay in the UK without making an application under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Right to Work

The right of free movement for UK nationals in the EU, and EU nationals in the UK, ended on 31 December 2020.

As was the case before Brexit, employers must check that potential employees have the right to live and work in the UK. Employers can access the free online checking service to confirm that a candidate has settled or pre-settled status here.

However, employers should be aware that, up to 30 June 2021, candidates do not have to agree to share their status using the online checking service. Potential employees who were in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 can use their passport or national identity card as an alternative and have until 30 June 2021 to apply for settled or pre-settled status.

The Future of Employment Law

Further down the line, the UK government may take the opportunity to dismantle EU-derived employment laws, post-Brexit. However, it’s worth pointing out that some aspects of UK employment law – such as equality legislation – go further than EU minimum requirements. This means even if the UK government does decide to repeal some EU-derived employment rights, there are still likely to be areas of employment law where the UK goes further than the EU.

For all of your employment and HR concerns, contact us for legal advice at 01432 278 179 and speak to Kate Wargen, Head of Employment & Client HR.

Could your business benefit from regular, on-demand support? Check out our Legal Shield service.

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