Brexit: Employing EU citizens in the UK

Steeles Law Solicitors
James Conley, Solicitor - Employment
James Conley, Solicitor - Employment

The UK is on course to leave the EU single market at the end of the year, which means the end of free movement of people too. Despite this, the Government has stated its commitment to protecting the rights of EU nationals and their family members who want to remain in the UK after Brexit.

It is in businesses best interests to take proactive steps in advance to ensure their employees retain the right to work in the UK and avoid business interruption.

EU Settlement Scheme

The EU Settlement Scheme (Scheme) has been set up to create a mechanism to support employees and requires UK based EU nationals to register to preserve their rights under UK law. This includes the rights to work, pensions, and healthcare.

It is vital that businesses assess whether, and to what extent, their workforce will be affected by the Scheme. EU, EEA or Swiss citizens and their family members who are living in the UK before 1 January 2021 need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.

How to assist your EU national employees

Make sure your workforce understands the steps they are required to take to lawfully be entitled to remain in the UK. This will depend on how long the employee has lived in the UK at the time they register.

  • Settled Status

EU nationals residing in the UK on or before 31 December 2020 with five years of continuous residence in the UK can apply for a new ‘settled status’ which will be similar to ‘indefinite leave to remain’ under current UK immigration law as it applies to non-EU nationals.

  • Pre-Settled Status

EU nationals residing in the UK on or before 31 December 2020 with less than five years of continuous residence in the UK must apply for a ‘pre-settled status’ to remain in the UK after 31 December 2020.

  • Non-EU Family Members

Non-EU family members of EU nationals who are residing in the UK before 31 December 2020 must apply for ‘pre-settled status’ or ‘settled status’ to protect their continuing rights to live in the UK after ‘exit’ day. It is also possible to bring non-EU family members living abroad to the UK provided that the relationship exists on 31 December 2020 and continues to exist when applying.

Contact us

 To find out how Steeles Law Employment team can support you and your business, please do not hesitate to call 01603 598000 or email

*The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.

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