As the UK goes hurtling towards a no-deal Brexit – general elections, resignations and repeat referenda notwithstanding – what are the issues for employees, especially the EU citizens, and how can HR professionals help?
EU Settlement Scheme
If your organisation employs people from the EU and Switzerland, they can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme – this is something you can support them with. The scheme is designed to help them, along with their family members, attain the correct immigration status needed to stay in the UK.
This is not only vital for them but will enable your company to retain its experienced staff, allow for continuation, and avoid the costs and time taken to recruit new staff.
There is an employer’s toolkit online [GOV.UK: EU Settlement Scheme: employer toolkit], which will help you to help them to find the right information and guidance.
More than a million people have been granted the correct status through the scheme, and should we end up with a no-deal Brexit, the deadline for applying will be 31 December 2020, so it’s important to get on this as quickly as possible.
If we leave the EU on October 31, your employees must be resident in the UK by that date to be considered, so if you are in the middle of recruiting, you will need to get a move on!
Those who have been resident here for more than five years are likely to receive ‘settled’ status, while those with less than five years of continuous residence are likely to be awarded ‘pre-settled’ status. Once they complete five years, they can apply for settled status.
What about your staff members who work abroad in EU Member states? How can you help them?
You will be responsible for letting them know about any changes to visa or residency requirements. In the short term, each state has been advised to give resident permits to any UK citizens living in the EU, but what will happen in the longer term is not so clear. You will need to keep up to date with each country’s policies, which are published by the European Commission.
What will happen in the future?
If you employ EU/Swiss citizens after the October 31 deadline, they will still be able to stay here for up to three years, by applying for European Temporary Leave to Remain. After that time, they will be subject to the UK’s new immigration system – which is set to apply from January 2021.
The system will have requirements such as job offer, minimum salary and skills – you can see all the details here [GOV.UK: The UK’s future skills-based immigration system]. However, it is still open to change.
Does your company send staff abroad for meetings or to speak at conferences? The good news is that UK citizens will be exempt from any visa requirements for visits of up to 90 days if they are business related.
No changes will be made straight away, but you should ensure you have plans in place and a degree of flexibility to deal with any changes without interrupting your business operations.
Keep them informed!
Nobody likes to be kept in the dark. Keep your staff informed about possible changes, and company actions that are being taken to manage Brexit. Senior management should be instrumental in being as open as possible about contingency plans, being reassuring about any changes, and demonstrating that the organisation is prepared for whatever happens. This stops rumours circulating and affecting morale among staff members.
You can find more information on how to plan for Brexit with the CIPD’s Continuity Planning for HR Brexit and beyond.
You might like to refer to our other articles on Brexit here:
- ‘No-deal’ Brexit will still be a good deal for workers
- Skills crisis ahead
- What HR professionals need to know about the general election
If you would like to discuss this subject further and how it could help your business, please contact Cecily Lalloo at Embrace HR Limited.
T: 01296 761 288 or contact us here.
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Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.