Advice by Alan Price, employment law expert and CEO of BrightHR
With the Brexit transitional period coming to an end on 31 December, questions are increasingly being asked over what businesses should do to prepare for this and what impact it will have on the employment of foreign workers.
Despite the constant rumblings in the press over ongoing negotiations between the UK and the EU, one thing employers must understand is that free movement of persons is to end regardless of any further trade deals ratified between the two parties. This means that from 1 January 2021, EU nationals will be treated the same as any other individual from overseas seeking to work in the UK and will need to do so via a new immigration system.
For the majority of workers, this will involve the new Skilled Worker route, through which individuals must achieve a minimum of 70 points to be allowed entry into the UK which are based around their occupation, skills and ability to speak English. To this end, employers must update their immigration policies to include and facilitate these new requirements, both in the recruitment stage and when conducting right to work checks.
A significant part of the new law is the need to be offered a job from an approved, licensed sponsor in order to work in the UK legally. Organisations will need to apply for a license via the government website, applications for which are already open. As we head towards the end of the year, employers should do this now, so they are ready for next year’s changes.
For EU nationals that already work for an employer, they can continue to do so indefinitely provided they have applied for ‘settled status’ through use of the EU Settlement Scheme. In place since March 2019, individuals who are living and working in the UK by 31 December 2020 have until 30 June 2021 to submit their application. If they have not done so by this date, they will be working here illegally. While employers cannot force staff to apply for this, they can encourage them to do so, such as by offering computer assistance if necessary.