Guidance for Employers Coronavirus (COVID-19) and employment law
Katherine Maxwell | 27.04.2020
20.02.2019 Moore Blatch
With so much uncertainty about Brexit, many employers are anxious about the status of their EU employees and employment in the future.
The UK is set to leave the EU on 29 March 2019. Even if there is no deal, the Government has made promises that EU nationals living in the UK by 29 March 2019 will be able to stay.
What is the current system?
At present EU nationals don’t need to make any application to the Home Office to be able to stay in the UK. However, it is much easier for them to work, study, rent property and access NHS services.
EU nationals can make an application for a Residence Card or Permanent Residence Card. Residence Cards can be applied for by EU nationals and their family members as soon as they arrive in the UK, as long as they are exercising the free movement rights, e.g. looking for work, working, self-employed, studying or self-reliant. The last two categories require that they have private medical insurance. Permanent Residence Cards can be applied for after the EU national, or their family members, have exercised their free movement rights for 5 years. This category confirms that they can stay in the UK permanently. All EU nationals and their family members must get a Permanent Residence Card before they can apply to become British Citizens. Permanent Residence applications can be made until 31 December 2020. Both applications require a £65 Home Office fee to be paid.
What will the new scheme be?
On 30 March 2019, the EU Settlement Scheme will open nationwide. The Scheme will apply to all EU nationals and their family members, except Irish Citizens. Applications will have to be made by 30 June 2020.
There will be 2 categories:
Settled status is similar to the current Permanent Residence. This will be granted if individuals started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, for 5 years in a row. If settled status is granted, the individual will not have to make any more applications to the Home Office. Pre-settled status is similar to the current Residence Card. It will be granted to individuals who haven’t lived here for 5 years continuously when they apply. They can make an application to change to settled status once they have lived here for 5 years continuously.
The new system doesn’t require applicants to show they have been exercising free movement rights. The Government has clarified “residing” only means being physically present and living in the UK. Any EU national who arrives and intends to live in the UK by 20 March 2019 (no deal situation), or by 31 December 2020 (if Withdrawal Agreement goes ahead), will meet this requirement. Applicants won’t be able to choose to apply for a settled or pre-settled status. There will be a Home Office fee of £65 per person aged 16 and over, and £32.50 for children under 16. Applicants in the following categories won’t have to pay a fee:
5 Key things you can do to support your EU workers now
Navigating around the minefield of Brexit is a significant challenge for most employers. We have recommended 5 steps you can take to protect your EU employees and continuity of your business:
It isn’t clear what will happen to employers who continue to employ workers who haven’t applied for confirmation of their status by the deadline. Most likely, they will be considered to be in the UK unlawfully and under current laws, employers could face heavy fines (up to £20,000 per employee) and face criminal conviction for continuing to employ them.