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EU workers in the UK - any Brexit news?

If you’re a UK employer with staff who are EU citizens (non-UK) then you’re probably still in a state of uncertainty over Brexit and how it might affect your employees and your business. So, any news?

The answer to this question is YES, but in practical terms, also NO. Put another way, following a joint EU-UK conference in March this year, there’s some agreement in principle over how Brexit will look, but it’s hardly set in stone just yet.

So, what’s on the table?

  • EU citizens will continue to have free movement during the transition period (from 29 March 2019 to 31 December 2020).
  • EU citizens living (and working) in the UK before the start of the transition period will be entitled to continue their residence after the period is over (either with settled status or a temporary residence permit) and a new procedure for residence applications will be launched in September of this year.
  • Those EU citizens arriving in the UK during the transition period will get a temporary residence permit that can be upgraded to ‘settled status’ once they have five years’ residence.
  • Family members of EU citizens in the UK are treated likewise, with the right to a temporary residence permit and, in time, settled status so long as they are a resident in the UK before the end of the transition period. Close family members – spouses, civil partners and dependents (whether children, grandchildren, parents or grandparents) – will be able to join them after the end of the transition.
  • Any EU citizen with a temporary residence permit or settled status will have the same access to healthcare, pensions and benefits as they do now.

Implications for employers

Cautiously, this was all good news, aimed at potentially minimum disruption for employers (on this aspect of Brexit, at least). With free movement preserved during the transition period, EU citizens will still be able to come to the UK and work legally, though there’ll be a registration process to be completed within three months of arriving (not dissimilar to now). And for any EU citizens currently working here (i.e. employed before the transition period), they will have the right to remain after the period is over (subject to added paperwork and bureaucracy, of course). This sounds good in principle, however, there’s a lot of back and forth to go before the end of December 2020 and everything is still subject to change.

Watch this space…

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