The majority of employment law in the UK comes from regulations set out by the EU. As a member of the EU, the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers were largely consistent across all EU countries, facilitating the employment of individuals in other EU countries. In 2021, at the end of the Brexit transition period, UK employment law may begin to diverge from EU employment law. This could present new challenges to businesses that employ EU nationals in the UK or UK nationals in the EU.
Employing EU nationals in the UK
Businesses that currently employ EU, EEA or Swiss nationals in the UK should inform these employees that they will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for settled status before 30 June 2021. Without this, the employees may no longer be eligible to live and work in the UK, which could disrupt your business and cost you valuable staff members. EU nationals seeking settled status must satisfy certain eligibility criteria. For more information on this eligibility criteria, please read our guide on Settled Status in the UK.
Businesses that intend to employ EU nationals to come to the UK for work after 31 December 2020 will need to take into consideration the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system. After the transition period ends, a points-based immigration system will begin, setting certain requirements for foreign workers to enter the country for employment. The potential employee should:
Your business will need to register for a sponsor licence from the UK government in order to support foreign workers in satisfying these requirements. You should also check that the foreign worker has the right to work in the UK using the government’s Employer Checking Service online.
There is also a UK government Global Talent Scheme to fast-track immigration for highly-skilled scientists and researchers to enter the UK without a job offer. This scheme will continue to apply to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens after Brexit takes place. Individuals hired through the Global Talent Scheme will not require a business sponsor.
Please note, none of the above applies to Irish citizens, whose current rights to live and work in the UK will not be affected by Brexit.
Employing UK nationals in the EU
Leaving the EU means that UK nationals no longer benefit from the Free Movement of Peoples from 2021 onwards. Therefore, businesses that employ UK nationals in EU member states will need to take into account new immigration rules in the relevant jurisdiction of their place of work. This may include applying for a work permit or visa, and may take time to obtain. UK staff working in the EU that drive as part of their job may need to apply for an International Driving Permit.