EU Settlement Scheme – FAQs

Given the number of EU nationals employed by hotels, restaurants and pubs and bars, the risk of losing them when freedom of movement finally ends is a major concern for operators. Answers to key questions around the Settlement Scheme follow, with pointers to ways in which you can help your employees from Europe to ensure they have the right to remain in the UK.

What is the EU Settlement Scheme?

The EU Settlement Scheme is an application process for European nationals to apply for indefinite leave to remain (settled status) or limited leave to remain (pre-settled status).

Who needs to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme?

Almost all European nationals and the family members of European nationals will need to register on the EU Settlement Scheme. This includes European nationals who already hold a permanent residence document. The only European nationals who do not need to register on the scheme are Irish nationals, European nationals with indefinite leave to remain and European nationals who are also British Citizens.

Is the Scheme open for applications?

On 21 January 2019, the Scheme opened for a further phase of testing. Any European national or family member who holds a biometric passport or ID card can apply. The Scheme opens fully by 30 March 2019.

Can a European national still work in the UK if they have not registered on the Scheme?

At the moment the Scheme is voluntary, and will remain so until 30 June 2021 if we reach a deal with the European Union, and until 31 December 2020 if no deal is reached. European nationals may remain in employment in the UK without registering on the Scheme during this voluntary period. At the end of the voluntary period, the Scheme will become mandatory. A European national will only be able to continue working lawfully in the UK if they have registered on the Scheme once it becomes mandatory to do so.

As an employer do I have a duty to ensure my European employees are registered?

No, technically not. The responsibility falls to the individual to ensure they are registered. However if an employer continues to employ a person who needs to register at a time when the Scheme is mandatory that employment will be unlawful and the employee will be considered to be an illegal worker. As an employer you could face a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker.

Is there a fee for registering on the Scheme?

The fee is currently £65 for people over the age of 16 years and £32.50 for those under the age of 16 years. The Prime Minister has however announced that the fee will be scrapped. At the moment the fee may still need to be paid but it will be refunded.

As an employer, how can I support my European workforce?

  • You could review your HR records to understand which employees will need to register on the Scheme.
  • To support the employees you could ensure they have access to information about the new Scheme.
  • Many employers have offered to provide support with the application process. This could be as simple as providing access to an Android phone and laptop or PC in order to submit details, and time to complete the application.
  • To minimise risk as an employer of European nationals you should ensure that you keep a record of the date on which the Scheme becomes mandatory and that you undertake a full audit of your right to work records before this date and bring them up to date.

If you or your employees would benefit from further information about the Scheme or the process for applying, you can contact Emma Brooksbank – emma.brooksbank@freeths.co.uk.

We were happy to provide briefings, workshops and support to employers of all sizes.