A new report found that EU employees may not be aware of the need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), leaving these workers vulnerable to getting their right to work in the UK stripped from them if they fail to do so.

Research conducted by The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) found that a proportion of EU employees could be at risk of losing their right to live and work in the UK due to a lack of knowledge linked to the EUSS.

The EU Settlement Scheme allows EU, EEA and Swiss workers and their families to apply to live in the UK after 30th June 2021. They will then be given either settlement status or pre-settlement status which carry different rights.

However, this research, conducted amongst care sector employees, found that one in seven care workers that were surveyed in an online poll did not know or were not sure what the EUSS is.

More worryingly, almost one-third (29 per cent) surveyed in-person had never heard about the EUSS until made aware through this report.

A further third of care workers were not aware that the EUSS had a deadline and over half of employees surveyed within the care sector stated that they did not know when the deadline was.

This lack of clarity around the EUSS, the report states, is leaving employees in low-paid, difficult or exploitative work at high risk of losing their status overnight.

As a result, the report concluded that the existing provisions to support employees with the EUSS were inadequate and needed to be supplemented. It further stated that the Home Office’s outreach to help EU employees with the EUSS is currently insufficient and criticised the Government for its reliance on charities and employers to fill the gap which it branded “unrealistic and dangerous”.

Whilst only under half of employees surveyed stated that they received help with their EUSS application, of those who did, over three-quarters (77 per cent) said this was a “quite” or “very important” part of the process.

This contrasts greatly against the number of workers who stated they did not know where to find assistance with the EUSS – nine in 10 care workers.

However, for employers, official Government guidance states that there is no legal obligation for an employer to communicate the EU Settlement Scheme. However, it does suggest employers “may wish to direct employees to the information that the government is providing”. It warns against offering employees legal advice unless the company is qualified to do so.

Ultimately, the report calls for the EUSS to be extended and a robust monitoring and outreach system to be introduced in order to help workers who otherwise would not have access to this information.

This research was taken from the JCWI’s report ‘When the Clapping Stops: EU Care Workers After Brexit’ which was published in January 2021. It collected responses from 242 EU workers in the UK, working in the care sector.