The end of the Brexit transition period is drawing nearer and it is important that you consider the impact that this may have on your workforce after the 31 December 2020.
From 1 January 2021 onwards, the free movement agreement between the EU and the UK ends and this may mean that you need to take steps now to retain existing staff members who are EU citizens.
Employers should check whether existing employees from EU member states need to apply to the settlement scheme.
A person is eligible for settled status if:
- they started living in the UK by 31 December 2020; and
- have lived in the UK for a continuous five-year period.
Five years’ continuous residence means that for five years in a row they have been in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least six months in any 12-month period.
If they do not have five years’ continuous residence when they apply, they’ll usually get pre-settled status. To get this they must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 and can stay in the UK for a further five years.
They can then apply to change this to settled status once they have five years’ continuous residence.
Some EU citizens may be able to stay in the UK without applying – for example, Irish citizens or those with indefinite leave to remain.
The deadline for applying for settled status is 30 June 2021 and so this process must be completed before then. Businesses wishing to retain talented EU citizens may wish to help employees to prepare the necessary application.
After the transition period, you can still recruit EU citizens but you will need to apply for permission and obtain the necessary visas. The rules surrounding visas are not straightforward and it is strongly advised that you seek professional advice, as the rules are changing as the UK looks to implement a points-based system.