Asking Employers to do the impossible!
It seems that employers will be expected to check EU nationals’ right to work in the UK post-Brexit, although the Immigration Minister, Caroline Noakes, has admitted that during the Brexit transition phase it is likely to be “impossible” to differentiate between somebody who has applied for settled status and somebody who has recently arrived in the UK.
The Minister told the Home Affairs Select Committee that employers will be expected to carry out right to work checks when recruiting an EU national, just as they should be doing with all employees. However, she admitted that there will be a challenge around how EU citizens provide evidence of their right to work, especially if they have not yet applied for, or are going through the process of achieving, settled status during the transition period.
New arrivals in the UK may also struggle to provide evidence about their eligibility to work, and MPs pointed out that during the transition period there will be no way to differentiate between someone who has recently relocated and someone who has lived in the UK for several years, for example.
The Minister said: “The reality is that we have 3.5 million EU citizens whose rights we are determined to protect, so it is likely that there will be a period during which it is impossible for employers to differentiate between them and somebody who is newly arrived.
“But it is important that all those here for more than three months will be required to register and go through the mandatory registration scheme, so that once they have been here for three months it will be possible for somebody to differentiate.”
She did give some hope to employers who will have to carry out these checks by saying that said that any enforcement around the settled status scheme would not be overly rigorous early on, because it is “one of the conundrums that employers will face”, though employers will be expected to make reasonable checks.
“It will be an enormous challenge both for employers and for EU citizens who have the right to work here to make sure that we get them through the settled status scheme as efficiently as we possibly can, which is why we opened it up to private beta testing over the summer and why phase two opens in November.”
She said the government and employers did not wish to discriminate against EU nationals who have the right to live and work in the UK, but accepted that it will at first “pose a challenge to government and, indeed, employers” in differentiating between those who are and are not eligible.
Around a quarter of the 4,000 people who were eligible to apply for settled status in the first testing phase had done so, she revealed.
Those that arrive during the Brexit transition period (by 31 December 2020) will need to apply for settled or pre-settled status by 30 June 2021, the government has previously stated. Settled status will be granted to those who have lived in the UK for five years.
The government has now said that employment status of EU nationals arriving in the UK will not change until at least 2021. It seems that there are likely to be further changes on this matter, but this latest statement conflicts with others made recently, so it may be some time before the matter is clarified completely.
Posted on 01 Nov 2018