Brexit Transition- time is running out!

Brexit Transition- time is running out!

With less than a month left until the end of free movement of EU nationals to and from the UK, HR must be prepared for this important change.

From 1st January 2021, the right to work for people from outside the United Kingdom and Ireland is changing. To recruit internationally, most companies will need to register as a licensed sponsor to hire eligible people. This blog explains the factors that companies need to consider if they have EU workers or plan to continue to recruit EU workers after January.

From January there will be a new points-based system which aims to treat EU and non-EU citizens equally. Under a points-based immigration system, anyone coming to the UK to work must meet certain criteria as set out below. A visa will then be awarded to prospective employees who gain enough points.

What about EU citizens already living/employed in the UK?

The new system will not apply to EU citizens currently living in the United Kingdom by 31st December 2020. Any employee who lives in the UK prior to 31st December will be required to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Employers will still be able to accept passports and EU national identity cards as evidence of an employee’s right to work until the 30th June 2021. Alternatively, some EU citizens may wish to use evidence of their right to work using digital status obtained from the Home Office, if your employee wishes to demonstrate their right to work using this service they will need to provide their employer with a share code.

More information regarding right to work evidence for EU Nationals can be found here checking an EU citizen job applicants right to work.

Employees and EU citizens eligible for the EU settlement scheme must apply by 30th June 2021.

Please click here for more information New immigration system- what you need to know.

How can my company become a sponsor? 

If a company wants to continue recruiting employees from the EU after 1st January 2020, they will need to register to become a sponsor.

In order to obtain a sponsor license, employers must have made an application to UK Visas and Immigration to evidence their eligibility and prove they meet the requirements.

Before applying to become a sponsor, it is important to check that any prospective employees you want to recruit meet the requirements for coming to work in the UK, which include the employee earning at least £26,500 per annum, having a high level of English, a level of education equivalent of at least A Levels, ensuring that employees do not have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or other crimes. Additionally, the Government will also check that the employee does not have a history of failing to carry out their sponsorship duties.

It further states that employers must ensure that there must be ‘appropriate systems’ in place to monitor sponsored employees including:

  • monitoring the employees’ immigration status
  • keeping copies of relevant documents for each employee, including passport and right to work information
  • tracking and recording employees’ attendance
  • keeping employee contact details up to date
  • reporting to UK Visas and Immigration if a problem does arise e.g. the employee stops coming to work

More information on how to become a sponsor can be found here UK employer sponsorship.

Checklist-What do I need to do now? 

  • If your company anticipates a need to continue to recruit workers from the EU you should start the process of becoming a Sponsor ASAP.
  • Have a plan in place for the possibility of not being able to recruit EU candidates if your application to be a sponsor is not accepted.
  • Reassure your current workforce and current EU workers that they will continue to be able to work and live in the UK after 31st December 2020.
  • Do not discriminate against EU workers by treating them any differently or less favourably than other employees.
  • Ensure that when carrying out your right to work checks for new employees that if a new EU passport holder joins, they are aware that they will have to register and prove they were residing in the UK before 1st January 2021.
  • review your recruitment policies and right to work check procedures to make sure they are compliant.

Anna Craig, Managing Consultant, Bradfield HR

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