EU scheme brexit

A Guide to the EU Settlement Scheme

Love it or hate it, it seems Brexit will happen this year. One of the (many) big uncertainties surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU is what will happen to EU citizens living and working in Britain following exit day. In preparation for this, the government has launched the EU Settlement Scheme, a plan that allows your current employees who are EU citizens, and their family members, to get the immigration status they need to continue to live, work and study in the UK.

We’ve provided some guidelines on the Settlement Scheme and what you need to be thinking about if you have EU citizens working for you. It’s worth noting that the details of the scheme that are outlined below could all change depending on the outcome of the final Brexit negotiations.

Who needs to apply?

Current employees from Europe or the EEA will be required to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, and any future employees that you hire, post the deadlines outlined below, will be required to supply proof that they have received valid immigration status through the scheme.

The following people should apply for the EU Settlement Scheme:

  • EU, EEA or Swiss citizens
  • Non- EU, EEA or Swiss family member of an EU citizen
  • Individuals who currently have a UK permanent residence document

Employees who have indefinite leave to remain or enter, or are an Irish citizen, do not need to apply.

When is the deadline?

In the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 31st January 2020, the official application deadline is 31st December 2020. If we leave with a deal, the deadline is 30th June 2021. The website for the EU Settlement Scheme is already live and has received thousands of applications so we recommend ensuring your EU employees submit theirs as soon as possible.

What will happen after approval?

Once an application has been submitted, assessed and approved, the individual is given one of two statuses as follows:

  • Pre-settled status – this means they can stay in the UK for a period of five years (which is when they will be able to apply for settled status after living continuously in the UK for five years).
  • Settled status – this means there is no time limit on how long they can stay in the UK. They will usually also be able to apply for British citizenship 12 months after receiving settled status.

Will the EU Settlement Scheme cost my business anything?

At present, the answer to this question is no. A recent change implemented by the government means that applications to the scheme are currently free, which is great news! However, this could change at any moment, so we encourage all affected employees to get their applications sorted right away.

What do I need to do as a business owner?

If your business is reliant on EU citizens, or you have EU citizens working for you, these changes are going to affect you. Therefore, planning your strategy now is essential to ensuring you minimise impact.

Whilst there will be no changes to the Right To Work checks on EU citizens until 30th June 2021, it’s worth taking a look at your onboarding process, ensuring that it’s fit for purpose, so that you can capture all of the Right To Work documentation that you’re going to need moving forward. In addition, our HR experts recommend reviewing your current workforce and communicating the EU Settlement Scheme to anyone who will be affected. It’s also worth having a plan in place to ensure that you are able to collate the information you need prior to the deadlines in order to keep your organisation on the right side of the law.

You will also need to consider and respond to the following questions:

  • Do you want to allow your employees time to apply in their working hours?
  • Are your employees likely to need help with the application process?
  • Is there a higher risk of your talent leaving the business if their application is not successful?
  • Or are your employees worried about the forthcoming changes?

Contact our HR experts for further help and advice

While the current deadlines for applying to the EU Settlement Scheme may seem far away, they will be here before you know it. It is therefore crucial to get a plan in place now in order to save stress later down the line and to protect your business from potentially costly mistakes.

If you would like to find out more information on how Streetwise HR can guide and support your business with the EU Settlement Scheme, including communicating the scheme to staff, coaching managers through the process or any other HR related areas of concern, do not hesitate to get in touch on 0844 682 7488. Our friendly and experienced team will happily answer your questions and help your business to get to where it needs to be.

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