Employers’ guide to EU Settlement Scheme

The Government is still trying to reach agreement with the EU on what the future relationship with the EU looks like. The rights of EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU, was one of the quicker points to be agreed in principle; the position being that EU citizens in the UK by 30 March 2019 would have until December 2020 to apply for Settled Status (or register their status in order to apply for Settled Status once they had reached 5 years in the UK).

At the time of writing, there has been another change in personnel, with the Prime Minister taking over negotiating with the EU and the Department for Exiting the EU being tasked with working on both ‘deal’ and ‘no deal’ Brexit options.

Despite the ongoing negotiations, the Home Office has issued an employer toolkit to help employers give out information to their EU workers and their families about the Settlement scheme. A generous view of this is that the Home Office is attempting to provide timely and useful information to help EU citizens obtain the Settled status as soon as the scheme is up and running, with little difficulty. A more cynical view is that the Home Office is asking employers to shoulder the burden of publicising the scheme, possibly fuelled by the report from the Migration Observatory which warned that tens of thousands of EU citizens could inadvertently become ‘illegal’ residents in the UK.
The toolkit comprises guidance on how to use it, a briefing pack, leaflets for employees, and posters to display.

Whilst this is useful information for employers, employers do need to be careful that the information and assistance they provide does not amount to “immigration advice” as it is a criminal offence to provide immigration advice without being regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner or a member of certain professional bodies (such as the Law Society, Bar Council, etc.)
In addition to this risk, employers do not necessarily have the time or resource to dedicate to digesting the wealth of information on Brexit and EU citizen’s rights, nor promoting the Settlement scheme to their employees. Employers may therefore feel reluctant to talk to employees about the Settlement scheme for fear of providing too little, or incorrect information.

At MLP we are able to provide advice to you and your employees on the new Settlement scheme as well as other immigration matters. If you would like to discuss your options for assisting your EU workers and their family please contact Charlotte Ashton on 0161 926 1592 or email charlottea@mlplaw.co.uk.