The deadline for EU nationals who were living in the UK before 31 December 2020 to apply for pre-settled or settled status is fast approaching. Any EU national who wants to continue to live and work in the UK must apply through the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021.
Many employers have worked hard to ensure that their EU national employees have applied and they have provided support to those who need it so they can continue to have the right to live and work in the UK. However, recent reports suggest that there are large numbers of EU nationals, including family members of EU national workers, who have not yet applied. Although the government has stepped up its communications recently, there are many EU nationals who may not even be aware that they need to apply.
If they haven’t done so already, employers should review their workforce as a matter of urgency because the consequences for EU national employees who do not apply by the deadline are significant. From 1 July 2021, those workers who have not obtained or applied for pre-settled or settled status will become illegal workers and could be subject to immigration enforcement action, even if they have been in the UK for decades or they have previously secured permanent residence status. It will be unlawful for any UK employer to employ an EU national without pre-settled or settled status (or another valid right to work in the UK) and, if they do, they could be subject to civil penalties and criminal sanctions. While an employer is likely to be able to follow a fair process to end an employment contract legally in this situation, this is obviously something employers will want to avoid.
Pictured: Jane Biddlecombe, an associate in the employment team at Paris Smith