There has been much comment in the media about the impending application deadline for the EU Settlement Scheme on 30 June 2021. For EU citizens and their family members in the UK, there will be a scramble to submit their applications.

What does it mean for you as an employer, and how will your responsibilities change regarding your EU workers after this deadline has passed?

A quick recap of the EU Settlement Scheme

Introduced as a part of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, the EU Settlement Scheme allows EU citizens and their family members who were resident in the UK prior to 31 December 2020, to apply to remain in the UK.

UK employers have historically been able to employ workers from the EEA, only needing EEA passports or national ID cards as evidence of Right to Work. This was because EEA citizens had the freedom to travel and work in the UK.

Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the Settlement Scheme was launched in 2019 to ensure EEA citizens in the UK could transition to permanent UK residence. Successful applicants were granted either pre-settled status (5 year visas) or settled status (permanent visas) allowing them to remain in the UK beyond the end of the transition period.

Whilst the eligibility period ended on 31 December 2020, the UK Government provided a grace period both for employers (with respect to Right to Work checks) and EEA citizens. This expires on 30 June 2021.

What happens next?

As an employer, from 1 July 2021 you’ll no longer be able to conduct an adequate Right to Work check for EEA citizens based on their passports or ID cards. You will need to check online that they have the correct immigration status under the Scheme or carry out a Right to Work check which proves they have an alternative appropriate immigration status.

This does not apply to any EEA nationals you hired before 30 June 2021. There is no need for a retrospective check, and you can continue to rely on a previous right to work check (even if it was based on an EEA passport or national ID cards).

EEA citizens will also have to demonstrate their immigration status to relevant authorities if required. They can do their either online using the ‘prove your immigration status’ or manually if their status is not electronic. An EEA citizen who is eligible under the scheme but hasn’t applied by the 30 June 2021 may be given a 28-day enforcement notice to make this application.