With over 3 million EU nationals already living in the UK, over 1 million UK nationals living in the EU, and thousands of employers needing continued access to labour and skills from the EU to grow, it’s vital to be aware of how a no deal Brexit is likely to impact both current staff and future hires. Companies that can support current employees will be more likely to retain them, and considering future immigration rules should be part of talent planning and skills investment.
Key challenges for business
How will no deal impact EU nationals currently working in the UK?
EU nationals already resident in the UK will be able to stay and have their rights protected in the event of no deal, bar those with major criminal convictions. EU citizens resident in the UK by 31 January 2020 will have another 11 months (until 31 December 2020) to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme in no deal. Frontier workers’ will also be able to continue to travel from another Member State such as Ireland or France to the UK daily for work.
There is no overnight change in employers’ legal obligations. Right to work checks remain the same until the new immigration system comes into force from 2021.
How will no deal impact UK nationals currently working in the EU?
EU member states have each established different processes for UK citizens to register to stay after a no deal Brexit. These mostly reciprocate the UK’s offer to EU citizens in terms of rights, but some have only provided this on a temporary basis, and some do not address continuity for the professional qualifications these individuals possess. They also provide different timeframes for registration – with the deadline for UK citizens in Germany coming in January 2020 and UK citizens in France coming in April 2020.
How will no deal impact hiring EU nationals in the UK?
EU nationals will continue to be able to travel to the UK and take up employment – on the same basis as now – until 31 December 2020.
EU citizens arriving between 1 February 2020 and 31 Dec 2020 will be able to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain (Euro TLR) immigration status. This is a 36 month temporary immigration status, after which individuals will need to apply to the new immigration system – which is due to come into operation from 2021.
Employer right to work checks are not changing until 2021 at the earliest, with passport and ID cards still valid. Employers will not be required to “tell the difference” between EU staff already in the UK, but who have not yet applied for the EU Settlement Scheme, and new arrivals after no deal.
How will travel for short term work and ‘fly in fly out’ services change after no deal?
UK citizens will not need a visa when travelling to the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. However, it is unclear what rights UK nationals would have to travel for short-term work in EU countries in the event of no deal. UK nationals will likely default to the differing immigration rules of individual member states regarding third country nationals’ right to work.
What are the implications of no deal for the Common Travel Area?
The ability for British and Irish citizens to move freely between and reside in the UK, Crown Dependencies and Ireland will continue. Additional rights to work, study, vote in certain elections, access social welfare benefits and health services for British and Irish citizens will not change.
Key questions for business to consider
If you employ EU nationals, regularly send staff to the EU for work purposes or are concerned about future access to labour and skills from the EU, then there are some key questions your Brexit plans should answer. These include:
- Have you communicated information about the EU Settlement Scheme with staff in the UK, and nation state registration rules in the EU?
- Is your HR team aware of the latest upcoming changes to right to work checks and their legal obligations?
- Have you considered what extra support you can give to EU citizens applying for the EU Settlement Scheme, such as access to android phones, translation support or access to independent legal expertise?
- Have you calculated how regularly staff travel to the EU for work and assessed if this can continue under respective member state’s immigration rules for third country nationals?
- Have you looked at the government’s initial proposals for a post-Brexit immigration system and its potential impact on your ability to recruit EU nationals in future?
- Have you considered the impact of a potentially more restrictive immigration system in the UK on your long-term plans for training, recruitment and automation?
Want the highlights? View our webcast
Preparing for no deal: the changes to employing people
Want to know more? Read EU staff and Brexit: five questions for every business
Other resources to help you plan
Do you want to communicate with staff impacted by Brexit? View this toolkit for employers and HR teams, which contains ready to use materials to sign-post to information about the EU Settlement Scheme.
Encourage employees to receive regular email updates from the Home Office to stay updated.
If you expect to hire new EU staff after a no-deal Brexit, take a look at the policy paper on transitional immigration arrangements for EU citizens moving to the UK.
Do your staff regularly travel to the EU to provide services? Read country-by-country guidance, including signposting to immigration guidance for third country nationals for all EU27 Member States, and passport rules for travel to and from Europe
If those services require a professional qualification, read the latest information on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
Do you regularly send workers to the EU? Read latest guidance on posted workers social security contributions.
Do you have employees that live in another country but work in the UK? Read the latest advice on frontier workers. There is currently no advice from the EU for frontier workers.
The Recruitment & Employment Confederation has a Brexit hub with advice for how Brexit will affect the recruitment industry, freedom of movement and the labour market.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has advice, including on preparing for Brexit through workplace planning, on their Brexit hub here.
How are other businesses preparing?
— Senior Vice President HR, GSK
“A key component of our Brexit planning has been supporting our people who may be personally affected by Brexit. GSK is offering access to specialist immigration services for those wishing to understand what they need to do to continue to live and work in the UK post-Brexit, or to help formalise their residency status either in the UK or an EU country. In summer 2018, we ran a webinar that outlined the latest information on the EU Settlement Scheme, and we continue to provide regular, informative updates to affected employees – We’re offering UK nationals in the EU personalised assessments and specialist support to navigate local immigration systems. A personal consultation with an immigration services provider is available to both UK and EU based staff, if needed.”
“Beyond this, we have given managers detailed information packs to guide conversations about Brexit, and our dedicated intranet hub houses extensive information including a recording of the webinar, Brexit factsheets, employee Q&A, links to relevant GOV.UK pages and an internal Brexit Mailbox for questions about our Brexit activity and support. Employees have said that they appreciate the timely information and support that GSK has provided. We have also made Android devices available to help EU nationals in the UK with their Settled Status applications. “