Posted: 26 / 11 / 2020
After leaving the EU on 31 January 2020, the 11-month ‘transition period’ will come to an end on 31 December.
Below, we look at the most pressing matters for employers of European nationals post Brexit.
Existing European employees – EU Settlement Scheme
With the end of free movement due at the end of 2020, and as the deadline for registration on the EU Settlement Scheme (EU SS) approaches in June 2021, employers of any European nationals will be keen to know their employees have secured status which gives them an ongoing right to work.
If they have not secured status under the EU SS by the deadline, they will technically become overstayers. This creates a risk profile for the employee and the business.
European national employees and employees who are the family members of European nationals should make their applications for leave to remain soon rather than later.
Employers should be reassured that they will not need to undertake fresh right to work checks for their existing employees, despite the change in status. Right to work checks for new European employees will change in July 2021.
New European employees – 2021 immigration system
European nationals who arrive in the UK on or after 1 January 2021 will no longer have an automatic right to work in the UK. They will require visa clearance. For most European nationals, this will be clearance under the new Skilled Worker visa route. This is a rebrand and redesign of the current Tier 2 system for sponsored work.
What does this mean for your business?
For most employers, this visa system will be the only option for recruiting from overseas into skilled roles. If a business does anticipate recruiting under the immigration system they should secure an immigration licence now. The licence is valid for four years and renewable at the end of this term.
What do you need to know if you want to sponsor an overseas worker?
The key characteristics of new immigration system for the sponsorship of a skilled worker are the same as the existing system– an employer must be licenced by the Home Office, there must be a genuine vacancy, an applicant must be sponsored to do a specific job and the job must meet a skill and salary threshold.
What roles can you recruit into from overseas?
The old immigration system only allowed recruitment at graduate level. The new system reduces the required skill level to RQF 3 (A-level), making many more occupations available for sponsorship. The Home Office decides the level at which an occupation is set. This does not mean that a person must hold A-levels, only that the role they are planning to fill is set by the Home Office at this level. A business can recruit as many overseas nationals as they have vacancies to fill. They will no longer need to look to the resident labour market first and there will be no cap on the numbers of visas available.
When are the new rules coming in?
These new rules will apply from 1 December 2020 for non-EU nationals and from 1 January 2021 for EU nationals arriving in UK for first time.
What to do next
If you need support with your European employees, we have partnered with Emma Brooksbank (Business Immigration Partner) at national law firm, Freeths LLP. Emma is happy to have an initial conversation on this topic with Sedulo clients free of charge. Please feel free to reach out to her directly.