EU Settlement Scheme- Important Deadline Approaching!
Brexit seems to be a cry from the distant past. However, whilst the pandemic understandably remains everyone’s primary focus, it is important that employers are reminded of the upcoming deadline.
30th June 2021 is the deadline for EU workers and their families to apply for permanent residency in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme.
In this article we look at what this deadline means for businesses and what employers can do to prepare.
What is the EU Settlement Scheme?
By way of a reminder, those who are EU, EEA or Swiss citizens can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.
If their application is successful, they will receive settled or pre-settled status, for more information on this and the application process, please visit here.
Those with indefinite leave to remain and Irish citizens are not required to apply.
Why should employers be concerned about this?
Research from the York University suggests that a significant amount of workers are either not aware of the need to apply under the scheme or they are unaware of the pending deadline.
By way of an example, it is thought that as many as 1 in 7 care workers did not know about the scheme as of January this year.
Given the impact the pandemic has had on staffing levels, if ignored this could have a significant impact on many UK businesses.
For details of the research see here
If staff do not apply, will this mean there are classed as illegal workers?
If workers do not have a valid reason for failing to apply by the deadline, they will lose their right to work in the UK.
Will this incur penalties for employers?
Quite possibly, yes.
You have a duty to ensure that you are only employing persons who are eligible to work in the UK.
To knowingly employ someone who is not eligible to work in the UK can carry an unlimited fine and a jail sentence. A failure to carry out the proper checks, can carry fines of up to £20k for each illegal worker you employ.
For more information on right to work checks please visit here.
Do you have to pay to apply?
No. The application process is free of charge.
What steps can employers take? Can we insist that each of our workers produce proof they have applied?
Employers need to be diligent here but it is very easy to cross the line into behaving in a discriminatory way.
The key, as with most things, is effective communication and ensuring employees are directed to reliable sources of information.
Here are some dos and don’ts for employers:
DO remind your workforce of the pending deadline
DO direct your workforce to the appropriate government guidance
DO allow time off for them to make arrangements to submit their applications or seek advice. This needn’t be paid but given the implications it may be a better approach to pay them to attend such appointments.
DON’T put pressure on them to apply or dismiss them if they inform you they will not be applying– you risk claims of discrimination if anyone is treated less favourably due to their ethnicity.
DON’T discourage them from applying because your work levels are dropping or because they are a problematic employee. If you need advice on managing reductions in the workforce or any conduct or performance issues- our experts will assist you.
Remember – Right to work checks
Due to the pandemic, the right to work checks are still a legal requirement but the checking of physical documentation was waived and instead employers were able to accept scanned copies of documents and carry out those checks via video calls rather than in person.
The adjusted right to work checks will be in place until 20th June 2021. However, there is a push for digital checks to remain the norm.
And finally…. Any queries regarding someone’s immigration status should be directed to the Home Office.
Any queries regarding the employment status of any staff members who have not applied or have indicated they won’t be applying- please speak to our experts before taking action to potentially end someone’s employment. This is irrespective of how long they have worked for you.
Next week– Socialising whilst off sick- is it safe to dismiss someone who is off sick but seen in the local pub?