Brexit Immigration Policies

Update on EU Working Rules


Brexit is fast approaching, infact it’s now less than 10 months away! On 29th March 2019, Britain leaves the EU which will have a big impact on businesses across the UK that currently employ EU citizens.

There’s still a lot of uncertainty around the subject of EU workers’ rights, with many businesses confused as to what is happening. In this post, we take a look at what’s been agreed so far, when it comes into force, and what employers can be doing now to prepare for a post-Brexit world.

EU citizens and residents – the rights

At the end of 2017, the UK government reached an agreement with the EU on some of the rights of citizens who are already in the UK when Brexit happens.

These are as follows:

  • EU citizens that have been living in the UK continuously for at least 5 years will be able to apply to stay in the UK indefinitely by applying for settled status. These citizens will have full access to public services and can apply for British citizenship.
  • EU citizens who arrive in the UK before Brexit, but have not been living in the UK lawfully for at least 5 years will be able to apply to stay until they reach the 5-year period. They will then be able to apply for settled status.
  • Family members who join EU citizens will also be able to apply for settled status after 5 years in the UK.
  • Spouses, civil and unmarried partners, dependent parents, children, grandparents and grandchildren will be able to join EU citizens in the UK after Brexit, as long as the relationship existed before then.

Into Transition – rights to 2020 explained

In March, the UK and EU also came to an agreement on a transition period after Brexit. This will last for 21 months, finishing at the end of 2020.

During this period of transition, the following rights were agreed:

  • EU citizens’ rights will be protected and maintained
  • The free movement of workers between the UK and EU will continue
  • EU citizens who arrive in the UK will be able to build up time towards settled status
  • EU citizens who arrive before the end of the transition period will have an additional 6 months from the end of 2020 to apply for residence documentation

Post Brexit – What’s happening?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of uncertainty about the working environment for EU citizens after the end of the transition period. At the time of writing (May 2018), there has been no firm decision on the working rights of EU citizens post-Brexit.

We do however, expect the introduction of a White Paper on Immigration in autumn 2018 that will set out provide further information and details. The government has also promised to introduce an easy online application process for EU citizens, to be launched in the second half of 2018.

Taking action – planning for Brexit

Legally, neither EU citizens, nor UK employers have to do anything at the moment. However, the clock is ticking, and it makes sense to take appropriate planning steps to minimise disruption and mitigate risk of loss of labour ahead of Brexit.

This might include:

  • Looking through the workforce, and identifying all EU citizens that could be affected by the changes, and/or ineligible to stay
  • Taking steps to communicate with these individuals, letting them know about the rights they have under the proposed legislation
  • Setting a key point of contact that EU employees can go to for any questions about legislation and support with applications
  • Pushing eligible EU employees to start the process for applying for settled status/permanent residence now
  • Putting together a contingency plan in terms of the potential impact of Brexit on the workforce in terms of labour and skill shortages

Dependable recruitment support and expert advice from Prestige

At Prestige Recruitment, we have an excellent track record in supporting businesses across a range of industries with all their personnel needs. As Brexit approaches, we’re here to ensure our clients have the labour and skills required to minimise the potential impact of the changing EU worker regulations.

Whether it’s for temporary, permanent or seasonal labour, we take a proactive approach to personnel. Keeping on top of the latest changes in legislation, we work with our clients to design, implement and deliver an effective recruitment strategy that fits requirements exactly.

Where clients need large volumes of low-skilled workers, we push hard to fill these roles quickly, conducting targeted, localised recruitment drives and active marketing programmes that are proven to deliver results.

For additional information, or proactive recruitment support, contact your local Prestige office today.


Posted: Wed 13 Jun 2018
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