(updated February 2021)
All employers have a legal obligation to check that all their staff have a legal right to work in the UK before they can employ them, as it is illegal to employ a person who does not have permission to live and work in the UK (the Company can be prosecuted and fined if they do). Full details of what you need to know are in our article here.
All staff need to be treated the same (regardless of their nationality, place of birth etc.) so all staff must be checked. When a member of staff joins an employer they must provide evidence of their right to work in the UK by showing the company an original document from List A or List B (that the Government publishes). If a member of staff ceases to be entitled to work in the UK whilst in employment the employer may have no option but to terminate their employment.
The Government regularly publish guidance which you can see in the article.
In addition, on 30th March 2020 the Government announced that there would be changes to Right to Work in the UK checks, during the Coronavirus pandemic. You can read the details here.
The Immigration Act 2020 (right to work in the UK)
On 11th November 2020 the Immigration Act received Royal Assent. This means an end to free movement of people from the European Union to the UK (and of course the end of free movement of people from the UK to the European Union) on 31st December 2020.
The Government said that from 1st January 2021 those wanting to come into the UK to work will need to apply for permission in advance. They will be awarded points for a job offer at the appropriate skill level, if they speak English, and for meeting the appropriate salary threshold. Visas will be awarded to those who gain enough points.
The government is also introducing special schemes to enable more scientists, academics, investors, entrepreneurs, and health and care workers to come to the UK easily.
Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now.
How to treat EU Citizens working in the UK after 1st January 2021
Employers will be able to freely employ European Nationals who entered the UK up until 31st December 2020 (subject to the right to work in the UK checks, as described above), and should not discriminate against them.
Any EU national arriving or already living in the UK before 31st December 2020 must apply under the EU Settlement Scheme to have the right to stay in the UK (if they want to!). Their application must be submitted before 30th June 2021.
EEA and Swiss nationals can use their passport or national identity card to prove that they can work in the UK until 30th June 2021. Until this date Employers cannot require these citizens to prove their immigration status under the EU Settlement Scheme. Guidance is given in Annex B of the Government’s “An Employer’s Guide to Right to Work Checks” on how EEA nationals should be treated, and what documents are acceptable, during the period 1st January to 30th June 2021.
After 1st July 2021 employers must ask new EEA employees for proof of their immigration status – which will either be under the EU Settlement Scheme or via the new immigration system.
EEA nationals who have applied under the EU Settlement Scheme will not have a physical document to prove their status – their status will need to be verified online by the Employer.
Irish nationals are exempt from these arrangements, under the pre-existing Common Travel Area arrangements.
If you have any questions, please let us know!