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Brexit: Reassuring your EU staff
The big question for employers in the UK who have EU nationals on their staff is what will happen after Brexit? Will they be allowed to stay and work? The lack of clarity about that so far has been worrying for employers and employees alike. However, some answers may now be starting to appear.

It seems that employees from the EU who want to remain in the UK after Brexit should be able to do so without needing to become citizens, according to new guidance issued by the government. At the beginning of November they sent a document to the European Commission containing new information about how they are proposing that EU citizens can apply for ‘settled status’ post-Brexit. The plans outline a completely new system for EU nationals to apply for settled status, which the government has promised will be a streamlined, low-cost, digital process.

If implemented, the proposed new status will allow lawful residence in the UK for most EU citizens who have been living in the country legally and continuously for five years. It will enable them to prove their status and rights, as guaranteed by the Withdrawal Agreement, to the UK authorities, employers, public service providers and others.

Individuals who are already in the country but do not meet the five-year threshold will be able to apply for continued residence on a temporary basis.

The Government has indicated that the settled status document will be equivalent to the cost of a UK passport, and it has also said that the new status will not be refused on minor technicalities. This suggests that EU nationals will not have to go down the costly route of citizenship because they will have the same rights as UK nationals with this settled status document and will in essence have “indefinite leave to remain.” It is expected that there will be a two year period from the date of Brexit for the applications to be submitted, during which their status, and that of their family will be protected. There will also be an appeal process if the decision to allow them to remain goes against them.

The document also offers reassurance that EU citizens will not be expected to leave on the day the UK exits the European Union, and acknowledges that around three million EU citizens and their families are potentially going to apply for this new status.

If you have EU employees, who are worried about their futures working for you in the UK, it would be a good idea to make them aware of the government’s proposal, in case they have not yet seen it.
Posted on 14 Nov 2017

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