The news this week has been dominated by Brexit yet again and whilst we watch politicians from both sides of the debate clash over the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the fact remains that in law the United Kingdom will be leaving the European Union on the 29th March 2019 unless we can negotiate an extension [by three months to 30 June] following today’s vote in the House of Commons.
This issue has divided the country, divided regions, towns, communities and even divided families over the past few years and whilst we all look to our elected officials for clarity and the assurances for a deal, the only certainty sometimes seems further uncertainty.
It’s far too easy to think of the UK as being in a vacuum and to consider that the only persons affected by Brexit will solely be UK businesses and citizens, but many businesses employ EU citizens and are questioning what impact Brexit will have on those employees.
There is a significant danger that businesses employing EU citizens post 29th March could be doing so illegally, if those employees have not or do not apply for settled status by the deadline of 31st December 2020.
As employers, you have a duty of care and obligation to your employees to help them understand the implications of Brexit and to help them prepare for this.
What is the EU Settlement Scheme?
The EU Settlement Scheme allows EU citizens and their family members to continue to live, work and study here in the UK after 31st December 2020 either under ‘settled’ status or ‘pre-settled’ status.
However, for some applications, you need to demonstrate evidence of continuous residence for 5 years in the UK. You can help your staff do this by providing them information such as P60s for each year of employment
Settled or Pre-Settled Status
Settled Status – also known as indefinite leave to remain or enter means that there is no time limit on how long you can stay in the UK.
Pre-Settled Status – also know as limited leave to remain or enter means you can stay in the UK for a period of five years. This will allow you to remain in the UK until you are eligible for Settled Status.
What can you do as an employer?
To start, you can look to familiarise yourself with the latest information, a really useful resource is the EU Settlement Toolkit published by the Government. The toolkit also provides useful tools for communicating these changes to your employees, leaflets, factsheets, posters and social media graphics; all of which help make the information easy to understand and timely for your employees.
You could run a series of internal workshops over a lunch hour either classroom style or more personalised one-to-one depending on the number of employees you have. Remember your employees will have questions and will possibly be anxious, so make it as comfortable as you can, which ample time for questions and answers. If you outsource your HR speak to your HR adviser and work with them to provide a timetable to your staff.