Important changes to right to work checks following EU Settlement Scheme closure.
What is the scheme?
The European Settlement Scheme (EUSS) was established to decide which individuals could live and work in the UK following Brexit, which prevented the level of freedom of movement previously enjoyed by non-UK citizens who had been resident and worked, or wanted to be resident and work, in the UK.
The deadline has now passed for those eligible European Economic Area nationals and their family members to apply to the EUSS, and applicants will receive either ‘settled’ status (which entitles them to remain in the UK indefinitely), ‘pre-settled status’ (which restricts their right to remain to 5 years) or have their application rejected.
Consideration for employers
Any eligible person that failed to apply on time, or who have had their application rejected, will no longer be lawfully resident and work in the UK. Alternatives to allow them to remain working in the UK include frontier worker permits or sponsored work visas under the points-based system.
For those who are actively recruiting or currently employ EU, EEA or Swiss nationals, guidance on dealing with these changes can be found here.
From 1 July 2021 onwards, employers can no longer accept an EU, EEA or Swiss passport as evidence of right to work for their new recruits. Employers must now check the individual’s right to work using a share code and their date of birth. Those citizens who receive ‘pre-settled’ status will also only have a limited right to work, so follow-up checks are essential.
Employers do not need to conduct retrospective checks for EU, EEA or Swiss citizens employed before 1 July 2021. It is inevitable however that many applicants to the EUSS will still be awaiting confirmation of the decision, with some reports suggesting that over 400,000 individuals are still awaiting their application to be processed. In these circumstances, they will continue to have the right to work until the application has been finalised and will receive a Certificate of Application or EUSS e-mail confirming receipt of the application.
It is crucial that employers familiarise themselves with these changes and take advice when uncertain, as there are substantial fines for employing an illegal worker as a result of not carrying out the correct right to work checks.
Potential penalties for employers include:
- · £20,000 fines per illegal worker;
- · Disqualification as a statutory director;
- · Criminal sanctions;
- · The revocation of premises licence (ie. to serve alcohol).
If you require any advice and support on this please contact our Employment & HR team at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01228 552222.