EU Settlement Scheme: have your employees secured their right to remain?
13 February 2020
Our profession employs significant numbers of EU workers across the skills spectrum – sometimes up to 34% of the workforce.
The Government has confirmed that the rights and status of EU, EEA (EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Swiss citizens living in the UK will remain the same as under EU membership until 30 June 2021. It has also stated that anyone who has reasonable grounds for missing the application deadline of 30 June 2021 will be given a further opportunity to apply, but there are no details on what that opportunity might entail.
However, uncertainty still surrounds some aspects of the Government’s new immigration policy, which will come into effect at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020, ending free movement of people from the EU. Coupled with concerns about the Government’s record on other immigration issues, such as Windrush, and that they could have been automatically granted the right to remain, many EU citizens are understandably concerned about their future status in the UK.
Have your employees applied to remain? Almost half-a-million haven’t
To date, more than three million applications have been made to the EU Settlement Scheme, with very few people refused; however, POLITICO reports that over 400,000 eligible Europeans living in the UK have not yet applied. These are likely to include vulnerable groups, such as older people, low-skilled workers, children and the homeless, who may not have access to the digital registration system or may be unaware they need to register.
Furthermore, the application figures includes non-EEA family members, Irish nationals and eligible EEA citizens not resident in the UK (that is, individuals who are not usually included in estimates of the resident EU population in the UK of around 3.7 million). The Government itself admits that it is impossible to calculate the actual number of EU citizens who have yet to apply to the scheme, whatever their reason.
Although there is no legal obligation on employers to communicate the EU Settlement Scheme to their EU workers, we believe that responsible businesses will not be complacent and will wish to ensure that their employees have secured their right to remain working in the UK.
The Government has published a toolkit for employers with information and materials to support their EU workers through the application. Alternatively, you may wish to direct your employees to the step-by-step Settlement Scheme application process.
IWFM has also produced a short guide to Brexit and immigration, which provides a summary of what leaving the EU means for employers and their EU workers.
If you require any further information on how Brexit may affect your EU workers, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org