Important information for UK employers with EU workers

The Payroll Services team at LWA have put together some detailed information for our clients, and if you’re a UK-based employer with workers from the EU – there’s still time to prepare for Brexit from a HR perspective, and to implement processes which will help your employees to continue to live and work here. If you want to ensure you’re retaining or redeploying key skills and maintaining productivity levels of your operations, read on.

Are you and your EU citizen workers prepared for Brexit?

As many employers have been preoccupied with the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic, navigating their way through the Job Retention Scheme and the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees, preparing for Brexit may not have been at the top of the to-do list. You may have noticed that the government has increased television and radio promotions pointing people to the website to help businesses prepare for Brexit, and following our recent Easy-to-follow top 20 checklist for business to prepare by 31st December when the Brexit transition period ends, below we have presented further advice relating to the big changes that will come into force for any EU citizens who want to come and live and work in the UK. 


The Brexit deadlines for EU citizens coming to live and work in the UK

There are 2 key deadlines looming affecting workers from the EU (or anyone from EEA or Switzerland, and their families):

  • Any EU citizen who wants to live and work in the UK without restrictions post Brexit must be living in the UK by 31 December 2020 (and be able to prove it).
  • Any EU citizen who wants to continue to live and work in the UK must apply through the EU Settlement Scheme for either pre-settled status (if they have less than 5 years’ residence in the UK) or settled status (if they have 5 years’ residence or more in the UK) by 30th June 2021. 

If an EU citizen does not take these steps, then, as of 1st July 2021, they will no longer have the right to live and work in the UK and could be subject to immigration enforcement action.


What will the rules be for EU nationals who first come to the UK after 1 January 2021?

EU nationals who want to come to work in the UK from 1 January 2021 and who aren’t already based in the UK will need a skilled worker visa under the new Points-Based Immigration System which will be in place from 1 January 2021.


Verification checks

With travel rules being affected by Coronavirus, this means temporary changes being made to the way employers can check documents for a job applicant's right to work in the United Kingdom, including asking for documents digitally, making checks on a video call, and what to do if someone cannot provide any accepted documents. You can find out more on this by clicking here.


Employers becoming sponsors

To employ these EU nationals you will need to be registered as a sponsor with a sponsor license and be able to meet the requirements of the new Points-Based Immigration System. Applying for a sponsor license can currently take up to 8 weeks, and it is anticipated that there will be a surge in demand at the end of the year so future applications may take longer. Priority options will be available and will only take 10 working days but such applications will require the payment of additional fees.


Wider Brexit HR Planning

It is important for you to have started working out the percentage of your workforce who are EU citizens, how many have the right to remain in the UK, and who may be at risk of leaving or wanting to leave. It would then be advisable to assess their roles and skills to understand which areas of your business could be affected.

Your HR plan should look at options for retaining the talent in your company, redeploying staff, and ensuring your business is an attractive recruitment proposition, to successfully pre-empt any gaps and offer business continuity as much as possible.

Take a look at this article by Dêmos HR Solutions for further guidance on Managing the impact of Brexit on HR and your workforce.


To read more about the government’s information and advice for businesses, please click here. In the meantime, if you’d like to speak to our Payroll Services team about any queries relating to paying your UK-based workforce, please contact 0161 905 1801 in Manchester and 01925 830 830 in Warrington.