There is currently a transition period between the 1st January 2021 and 30th June 2021. In this period all EU, EEA and Swiss nationals must submit their EU Settled Status (EUSS) application via the GOV.UK portal (https://www.gov.uk/settled-status-eu-citizens-fami...) to remain as eligible workers in the UK. Failure to do this may mean that the employee will be barred from working in the UK unless they are eligible under another route i.e. family registered in the UK or a skilled work visa.
Pre-Settled or Settled status?
Up to 31st December, this was a difficult topic to approach, because the transition period of 1stJanuary 2021 to 30th June 2021 had not started at that point. This meant that by asking the question about this status to foreign nationals, employers could have ended up with a discrimination claim against the Company. However, now that the transition event has begun, employers can now start communicating with their employees about gaining Pre-Settled or Settled status in the UK.
To do this, EU, EEA and Swiss nationals must apply for this status. Anyone who has been in the UK for 5 years or more on a continuous basis are likely to obtain Settled Status. Anyone with less than 5 years and were in the UK prior to 11pm on 31st December2020, can apply for Pre-Settled Status. Once accepted, the applicant will gain an official account with the government where they will hold their registration and right to work authorisation.
What should employees do if they have not already applied?
Employees should visit the GOV.UK website and search for “UK Right to Work". This will bring up a number of resources for both the employee and employer to use.
What should employers do now?
Here's some of our practical advice:
1. Complete a review of your entire workforce's “Right to Work" statuses.
2. Communicate with all EU, EEA and Swiss employees explaining the new situation and ask that they let the Company know whether they are intending to stay in the UK past the 30th June 2021 deadline or not. For those that are intending to stay and work in the UK after this date they will need to apply for their EUSS before the 30th June 2021.
3. For the remaining overseas workers, check to make sure that you have certified copies of their valid work visas or documents proving their right to work in the UK.
4. You should also check paperwork for employees who are UK citizens for accuracy.
5. If employees need help with their EUSS applications, employers are able to assist, but cannot apply on the employees' behalf.
6. For those employees that are likely to be lost from the organisation, companies will need to start planning employee recruitment or retention strategies to ensure continuity of goods or services to clients.
7. If a Company wants to recruit EU, EEA or Swiss nationals from outside of the UK after 1st January 2021, they will need to apply for an employer “Sponsor Licence". Please find the link here to explain how you can do this: https://www.gov.uk/uk-visa-sponsorship-employers.