EU staff are vital to keeping the leisure and hospitality sector running, so you are likely to want to help your EU staff and their families to remain in the UK to live and work after Brexit.
The legal position
The Government has confirmed that those who have completed a period of 5 years residence in the United Kingdom will be able to apply for settled status (indefinite leave to remain). Those who have not yet completed a five year period will be able to apply for pre-settled status which will lead to settled status (indefinite leave to remain). Pre-settled status and settled status (indefinite leave to remain) includes the right to live in the UK, work, study and access public funds and services.
The Home Office proposes that the application route for settled (indefinite leave to remain) and pre-settled status will open towards the end of this year.
Home Secretary, Sajid Javid confirmed in a statement of intent in June 2018: “To obtain settled status EU citizens will generally need simply to have lived continuously in the UK for five years. This means for example that stay-at-home parents, retired people and students can all be eligible. Those with less than five years’ continuous residence will be granted pre-settled status and be able to apply for settled status once they reach the five-year point.”
The application process
The Home Office have confirmed that those applying under the scheme will need to prove their identity, prove residence in the UK for the required period of time and declare they have no serious criminal convictions.
Evidence of residence
The Home Office intend to use HMRC and DWP records to confirm residence and employment in the UK. People will not need to provide substantial evidence of residence. Where the automated checks of HMRC and DWP data do not confirm that the applicant has been continuously resident in the UK, they will be able to upload alternative evidence of having completed the relevant 5-year qualifying period. If evidence is needed, the Home Office have confirmed that they will apply flexibility to the documentary requirements.
Use of technology for applications
They intend to provide an online application process which will be accessible through smartphones, tablets, PCs and laptops. They will provide a smartphone app, which will read the chip in biometric documents, such as passports. This will enable applicants to retain their ID during the application process. Applicants will be able to upload documents and upload a passport style photograph image of themselves as part of the process of confirming their identity.
Alternatively, applicants will be able to post their documents securely to the Home Office. The Home Office state that support will be offered to vulnerable applicants or those with no access to the online process.
It is proposed that the fee will be £65 for an adult application and £32.50 for a child under 16. There will be no fee for those who already have a document certifying permanent residence. From April 2019, there will be no fee for those applying for settled status who already hold pre-settled status.
The Home Office have emphasised that caseworkers are looking to grant applications, rather than refuse, and caseworkers will work with applicants to give them every opportunity to remedy any deficiencies or omissions in the application. This marks a welcome change in Home Office policy.
The scheme will open at the end of 2018. Applications will be voluntary until June 2021, at which applications for pre-settled or settled status (indefinite leave to remain) will become mandatory.
What can you do to help?
You will know from your records and pre-employment checks which of your workers are EU citizens. Auditing your workforce will enable you to plan for the future. You should assist affected staff by giving clear information about whether they can apply for settled or pre-settled status and details of the application process. You may offer to provide computer access for those who do not have this.
Right to work checks – plan ahead
As you know, before an employee starts work for your business you are obliged to check that they have the right to work in the UK. There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK until 2021.
However, after June 2021 you will need to check that all your employees have the necessary status document in place. You should ensure that you have a system in place to check this is the case otherwise you risk a fine of up to £20,000 per employee for employing an illegal worker.
Evidence of settled or pre-settled status will be given to EU nationals in digital form. No physical document will be issued to them. Non-EU family members will be issued with a biometric residence permit.
For more information about any of the matters highlighted, contact Emma Brooksbank
The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.