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After months of negotiations, the Brexit deal has been done and freedom of movement between the UK and EU has ended. This brings about changes to the way recruiting people from outside of the UK operates. We look at what employers need to consider for their existing EU staff, and when hiring natives from beyond the UK borders.

Since 31st December 2020, all EU workers seeking employment in the UK must meet certain criteria and apply for permission. Employers will also need a sponsor licence to hire most workers from outside of the UK. This is a big change from how EU recruitment has functioned in the past, and with different requirements for each visa, it can be time consuming so it’s important to prepare.

Skilled workers

Anyone you recruit from outside the UK for the Skilled Worker route needs to demonstrate that:

  • they have a job offer from a Home Office licensed sponsor

  • they speak English at the required level

  • the job offer is at the required skill level of RQF3 or above (equivalent to A level)

  • they’ll be paid at least £25,600 or the ‘going rate’ for the job offer, whichever is higher.

What about my current EU staff?

If an EU, EEA or Swiss national arrived in the UK by 31st December, they must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30th June 2021 to remain legally living and working in the country.

Only certain individuals are exempt from making this application:-

  • those holding dual UK/EEA nationality

  • Irish nationals (but this exemption does not extend to their family members who are not Irish); and

  • those holding Indefinite Leave to Remain/Enter under the UK immigration rules.

Failure to complete this step by 1st July 2021 would mean that they are unable to work within the UK legally. For their employer, hiring or continuing to employ such an individual could constitute a criminal offence, resulting in a civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker.

What should employers be doing now? – Checklist

  • Communicate with EU staff – Reassure staff during this uncertain time, and offer help with their EU Settlement Scheme application if they need it.

  • Conduct an employee audit – Undertake this step to establish who from your workforce this will affect, and to legally cover yourself by the deadline of 1st July 2021

  • Confirm EU staff status - Verify that employees have applied for EU Settled Status by the required date. If extra confirmation is needed, you can request a copy of the successful application outcome in the form of a digital document. But remember, during the transition period, staff do not legally have to provide this to you.

  • Make a calendar note – Put a reminder in your diary to check that all staff have applied for the correct immigration status before the employer becomes liable on 1st July 2021.

  • Check your contracts – Any employment contract issued must now be conditional upon the employee’s right to work within the UK throughout the duration of their employment

  • Be prepared for skills shortages – Some roles may be harder to fill with these new visa restrictions. Consider your hiring strategies, or get support from a recruitment agency like Search, to tap into their large network of candidates.

If you’re looking to find out more about how Brexit will affect you as an employer, and want to talk to someone about how it will impact your recruitment strategy, get in touch with our team today.

Whatever sector you work in, our experts are here to support you and we’d be more than happy to connect you with someone from our network who can help and advise you.

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