With the 29th March only a couple of months away and the possibility of a ‘no deal’ Brexit; practice owners are right to have concerns over how to support their team members who work for them under the current EU free movement rules.
The government has been able to confirm that free movement will effectively continue until the end of 2020. They have recently published an EU settlement scheme that sets out detailed rules on the status of EU nationals who are resident in the UK before the end of 2020 which you can read here.
Under the scheme, anyone who has been in the UK for five years will be offered ‘settled’ status, meaning they can stay living and working in the country and enjoy the same rights as they currently do. Those who have been here less than five years will be granted ‘pre-settled’ status and be allowed to stay here until they have reached the five-year threshold for gaining settled status. Irish citizens will not be required to apply for status at all under the scheme.
CODE has been monitoring developments and although applications under the EU settlement scheme will not require much involvement on the part of employers, as they do not propose a system of employee sponsorship like the current system in place for non-EEA nationals, there are still a number of steps employers can take.
- Communicate with those team members affected, keep them up to date with developments (the government has published a toolkit to assist with staff communication)
- Assess how many team members are working under current EU free movement rules
- Check your employee files, ensure all documents are up to date and accurate (supporting evidence may be requested to assess residence status) – see the Staff File Checklist (M 249)
The EU settlement scheme will be fully open by 30th March 2019 and the deadline for applications will be the 30th June 2021. The process of applying is different if you have a permanent residence document or indefinite leave to remain. The Prime Minister announced on the 21st January 2019 that there will be no fee charged for applications and anyone who has already applied will have their fee refunded.
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