We are almost at the point whereby the transition out of Europe ends and free movement for all EU nationals (with the exception of Irish) will come to an end.  What happens if you employ EU workers from 1 January 2021?

EU workers not already employed in the UK

Any EU citizen who is not resident in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020 will need a work permit in order to be employed in the UK.  Employers who wish to employ EU citizens will need a sponsor licence.  Further information can be found here UK visa sponsorship for employers.

Existing EU workers already employed in the UK

EU citizens resident in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020 are eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme before the 30th June 2021 deadline.

Right to work checks

There are no changes to right to work checks at present and during the grace period until 30 June 2021, employers can continue to solely check an EU citizen’s passport or national ID card in the same way as usual.

This check should be carried out before employment commences and will provide the company with a statutory excuse against potential illegal employment for the duration of employment.  If a right to work check is not carried out, employers can be subject to a civil penalty or in a worst-case scenario criminal prosecution.

You do not need to retrospectively carry out new checks for existing EU workers right to work.

Do we need to ask for proof that an EU citizen has applied under the settlement scheme?

You can ask employees if they have applied and ask for proof on a voluntary basis, but you cannot force employees to do so at this stage.  You must also ensure that you request any evidence in a non-discriminatory manner.  You can provide them with information and support about the scheme and there are posters and template letters available EU Settlement Scheme: employer toolkit

How do you know when an EU citizen has arrived in the Country for new starters after 1 January 2021 and 30 June 2021 if there is no change to the right to work checks?

Ask the individual when they first arrived in the UK and document their response.  If they arrived prior to before 1 January 2021, carry out the right to work check with their EU passport or national ID card.  Provide them with information on the settled scheme if they do not have information already.  You could also ask them if they have applied for the scheme and ask them to volunteer their proof but should not force them to provide you with this.

Where can I find out more?

Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status)

EU Settlement Scheme: Introduction for employers

EU Settlement Scheme: employer toolkit