Free movement of workers from the EU to the UK ended December 31st 2020.
However, the European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals (collectively referred to here as EEA nationals), can continue to use their passport or national ID card for Right to Work checks purposes until June 30th 2021.
Current guidance says that there is no obligation upon UK employers to carry out retrospective checks on any of their UK-based EEA national employees prior to June 30th 2021.
Under the Withdrawal from the EU Agreement, all EEA nationals (except Irish nationals) who resided in the UK by 11pm on December 31st 2020 are be required to apply for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021.
This includes those who already hold a registration certificate or permanent residence card.
In addition, dependents who are non-EEA nationals must also apply for settled or pre-settled status in line with their EEA family member.
It is the responsibility of the individual to make the application; an employer cannot apply on their employees’ behalf.
In order to help such staff or to avoid a last-minute rush, it is tempting for employers to ask their UK-based EEA national employees whether they have yet applied for Settled Status or pre-Settled Status in the UK.
However, this raises a number of risks, not least potentially discriminatory assumptions about who may or may not already be UK citizens, therefore employers should approach staff communications on this very carefully.
For most employers, it would wise to communicate to its entire UK workforce to avoid singling out any individuals in a discriminatory way.
New arrivals: Right-to-Work in the UK from 2021
Any EEA national who arrives in the UK for the first time, after January 1st 2021 is required to obtain permission to work or to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, if the latter is available to them.
However, until appropriate permission or status is granted, such individuals are not allowed to work in the UK and it is an offence for an employer to knowingly employ a person who is subject to immigration control or where there is reasonable cause to believe this is the case and the person is employed regardless.
UK points-based Immigration system
A new immigration system now applies to anyone arriving in the UK from the European Union whereby EU citizens moving to the UK to work will need to obtain a Work Visa in advance of their arrival in the UK.
Employer Sponsorship Licence required
As such, UK employers will therefore require an Employer Sponsorship Licence in order to employ someone a UK-based worker from outside the UK. This includes citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020.
However, the rule does not apply workers arriving from Ireland to to any of its current UK-based EU national who have Settled or Pre-settled Status, as outlined above.
A Sponsorship Licence has a validity period of 4 years.
For further details and guidance on Right-to-Work in the UK and the UK Sponsorship Licence process, please contact us.