October 31st is almost here and with it, Brexit?
The latests reports show that just 26% of businesses are preparing for Brexit, while an additional 27% are not currently preparing but would in the future. This data reflects the uncertainty everyone is facing around Brexit.
In this post we want to put the focus on the employment of EU citizens after Brexit. How will Brexit affect your employees and your hiring practices?
If the UK officially leaves the EU at 11pm (BST) on 31 October 2019, there are two likely outcomes:
- Withdrawal agreement
The UK government hopes a withdrawal agreement will be in place when the UK is due to leave the EU on 31 October 2019.
Any withdrawal agreement will probably come with a transition period (until December 2020). During this time the majority of EU legislation will continue to apply to the UK, and negotiations between the UK and EU will continue.
During the transition period, business should continue much as usual and required business changes should be indicated well in advance, so businesses can prepare.
- No-deal Brexit
With a no-deal Brexit, the UK will take on “third country” status in the eyes of the EU.
This means the UK would be treated the same as countries that lack any free trade agreements for tax, customs and the movement of goods and people within the EU.
There will be no transition period in this case and significant changes for businesses will be required immediately as of 1 November 2019.
Employment of EU citizens after Brexit
Your business will probably still be able to employ EU citizens after Brexit if they are already living and working in the UK.
Under current proposals, EU citizens will have to apply for and receive “settled status” (indefinite leave to remain) if they’ve been living in the UK for a continuous five years period, and started living in the UK by either 31 December 2020 or the date the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
If the individual doesn’t have the five years’ continuous residence then they can apply for pre-settled status if they’ve been in the UK for between six months and five years (even if they’re married to a UK citizen).
Again, they will have to have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020, or the date the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
Settled or pre-settled status gives individuals the right to continue to work in the UK. Notably the application for settled or pre-settled status must be carried out by individuals and not the businesses employing them.
The government says employers will continue to have to check an applicant’s right to work in the UK, as they do now. This can be done via their passport or national identity card (including biometric residence card), or via the Home Office’s online right to work checking service.
However, the government’s recent vagueness on what no deal means for freedom of movement has create insecurity, being still unclear how employers, landlords and public services will be expected to apply any new rules.
The position for Britons in Europe is even more complex and uncertain as it will depend on each country’s decision.
The above information is just a brief overview of the Brexit impact on employment. However, there is still not complete clarity around what will happen on the 31st of October. For further information, you can read the guidance notes the UK Government has published for business preparation in the case of no deal.
It’s also important to consult a legal advisor if your business legals will be affected by Brexit. Book a call with our legal team and we’ll answers your questions.