Brexit is still coming, but the prospects of a ‘deal’ are looking quite slim.
Nevertheless, from the 1st January 2021, any EU nationals arriving in the UK will need to obtain a visa and possibly a sponsorship agreement with a prospective employer. And any EU nationals who had arrived in the UK before the end of 2020 must have claimed Settled Status by the 31st June 2021, to ensure they can continue to live in the UK but this is all depending on some form of deal. Anyone arriving to work in the UK from a European nation after the 1st January 2021 must meet certain skills standards before they will be entertained for a visa.
As an employer, here’s what you need to consider:
- The right to work (pre and post-January 2021)
- Sponsorship Licences including applying for a sponsor licence in time for the rule changes on 1 January 2021
- HR-related issues such as clauses in your Contracts of Employment and having the correct policies in place.
What should you do next?
- Connect regularly with EU nationals in your workforce. Update them on developments, reassure them of their value to the organisation, and assist them with whatever steps are needed to attain Settled Status in the UK. One of our retained employment law clients, OTS Solicitors, are Immigration specialists and may be able to help
- Apply for Sponsorship Licences for your staff. Again, OTS Solicitors can help.
- Ensure you have a suitable Law and Jurisdiction clause in your Contracts of Employment
- Have an up-to-date Border and Migrant Worker Policy in place in your organisation
You must have a policy in place to make sure you understand and comply with these legislation changes from 1 January 2021.
You might also want to plan for future workforce requirements and how these might be met given your reduced access to EU nationals: consider alternatives to hiring EU nationals; for example, from other talent pools including among older, disabled or long-term unemployed people, or ex-offenders or train and develop your existing workforce to reduce dependence on EU nationals.
Get this right and your business should be ready to deal with whatever comes out of the ongoing Brexit negotiations. However, the penalty for doing nothing could take a business under and in turn result in a custodial sentence of up to five years and/or a £20,000 fine for each illegal worker.
Call us on 03456 122144 if you or someone you know needs clarification on these matters.