With the deadline to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme fast approaching, HRreview talks to Managing Director at Croner, Paul Holcroft, to reflect on what employers should now do.
The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) gives citizens from the EU, EEA or Switzerland the legal right to continue living in the UK after 30th June 2021, following the end of free movement after Brexit.
In cases of successful applications, people will be given either settled or pre-settled status. The status given is dependent on the length of time the applicant has lived in the UK.
As securing this status provides staff with the legal right to continue living and working in the UK, employers have been urged to assist staff with this process.
However, with only a week left to apply, Paul Holcroft states a main priority should be making workers aware of the deadline:
As we head into the final week before the deadline for applications to the EU settlement scheme, employers should be doing the only thing they can do with their EU workforce, which is ensuring they are aware of the need to apply for settled status and providing support to apply where they can.
Mr. Holcroft further warns that employers cannot force employees to take this step or ask for evidence as this could lead to discrimination claims:
Employers cannot make employees apply to the scheme, nor can they require evidence at this stage that the employee has obtained the necessary authorisation to stay in the UK.
Employers can, however, ask employees to voluntarily submit that information and it is recommended that employers ask for this so they can have as best a picture of their current position as possible.
Unfortunately, the Government has not yet provided guidance on what employers can do if they discover that someone who was required to apply by 30 June has not in fact done so.
Mr. Holcroft highlights that it is not yet known what employers can do in cases where staff have not applied in time. However, there are non-direct ways that employers can assist with the application:
The Government has not clarified what, if any, liability will fall on the employer with regards to employees who have not obtained authorisation in time.
It has emphasised that no retrospective right to work checks are required for any EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens employed before 1 July 2021, but employers are realising that this does not leave them with a method for understanding any liability.
Employers may wish to assist EU nationals with their Settlement Scheme application but it’s important to note that they cannot do the application for them. Ways in which an employer could assist could be by permitting the employee to use company IT equipment or allowing paid time off during the working day in order for them to make their application.
As of the most recent figures, it is estimated that 4.8 million people have been given status under the EUSS.
However, it is still uncertain how many people are yet to apply – meaning employers should not miss the opportunity to remind staff of the important, impending deadline.