The effect of Brexit on EEA nationals living and working in the UK has been of great concern, but it could also have serious ramifications for the many UK based companies that employ a large proportion of EEA nationals.
Many employers are deeply concerned about what will happen to their valued employees after the UK has formally left the EU, as well as being reluctant to offer vital positions within the company to EEA nationals due to worries about their ability to carry out the role in the future. We have worked with employers where EEA nationals make up 70% of their staff, and if these individuals were to loose the right to work in the UK this would be of great detriment to those companies, and would have an adverse affect on UK companies in general.
On 22 June at the EU summit in Brussels, Theresa May stated “I want to reassure all those EU citizens who are in the UK, who have made their lives and homes in the UK, that no one will have to leave”. At this stage we understand that this is for those who have spent more than a continuous period of 5 years in the UK exercising Treaty Rights. Of course this is a comfort to employers, however until this has been officially confirmed and further details have been provided there is still an element of worry.
There is also concern for EEA nationals who have been residing in the UK for a period less than 5 years, as protection of their residence has yet to be confirmed. It is possible that the same agreement may be put in place for these individuals, however at this time their status is uncertain.
At this stage, in most cases it is strongly advisable for individuals who have spent more than 5 years of continuous residence in the UK whilst exercising Treaty Rights to apply for confirmation of their Permanent Residence. This especially applies for those who are looking for employment, to provide potential employers with greater assurance.
Various announcements from the government suggest that the majority of EEA nationals in the UK will not be affected by the departure from the EU. However, this is dependent on the EU countries providing the same protection for British Citizens based in other EU states, which has yet to be determined.