From 1 January 2014, working restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are to be lifted and Bulgarians and Romanians will have unrestricted permission to enter and work in the UK.

As working restrictions are lifted on nationals of two member states, they are being imposed on those of another. The UK government has recently put in place transitional immigration rules for the newest member of the EU - Croatia. Croatia joined the EU on 1 July 2013 and, while Croatians can travel to the UK freely, they will need permission if they want to work here. Permission will generally only be provided to skilled workers and only if a UK employer is able to sponsor the Croatian national. These restrictions are designed to control a surge of low-skilled labor into the UK from Croatia.

In the ever-changing landscape of Europe and the Home Office’s immigration rules, it is critical that employers have good systems in place. If employees do not have permission to work for an employer, the employer will be liable for a fine of £10,000 per employee unless it can show that it carried out prescribed checks of the person’s immigration documents. A three step process of “check, validate and keep” must be carried out on all employees (to avoid allegations of discrimination), and we recommend that employers put in place a simple check list for all employees to ensure that this is done before they start work.