The EU Settlement Scheme, a process designed to enable eligible EU citizens to remain in the UK after Brexit, began in 2018. The (somewhat controversial) scheme grants successful individuals either settled or pre-settled status, and any EU citizens wishing to remain in the UK should have applied to the Settlement Scheme before the end of June 2021.
Some individuals are now nearing the end of their pre-settled status, meaning that they’ll no longer have the right to live or work in the UK once their status has expired. So is there anything you can do as an employer to help your employees if they find themselves in this position? Yes – support them through the application process and let them know they’re not alone!
Pre-settled and settled status: what’s the difference?
When applying to the scheme, individuals will be granted either pre-settled or settled status, depending on several factors. Generally speaking, a settled status will be granted if an individual has lived in the UK for at least 5 years and doesn’t have any criminal convictions. This type of status means that the individual can live and work in the UK, with the same benefit, education, pension and healthcare rights as a British citizen.
Pre-settled status, on the other hand, is granted if an individual doesn’t meet the necessary requirements. This type of status is granted for 5 years, and in that time the individual will need to successfully re-apply for a settled status in order to remain in the UK.
Any pre-settled statuses granted in 2018 are due to expire this year
This means that if an individual applied to the scheme when it first opened in 2018 and was granted pre-settled status, their five-year deadline is approaching. If the individual wishes to remain in the UK, they’ll need to apply for a settled status before their pre-settled status lapses.
Am I liable for my employees settled status in any way?
You, as the employer, have no obligation to check an EU employees settled status, so long as their right to work was checked on or before 30th June 2021. However you may wish to do so to ensure you won’t have an unexpected gap in your workforce should an employee have to leave the UK. You can ask (but not require) your employee to share their Home Office grant email for confirmation or you can request permission to carry out a repeat Right To Work check.
If you have a newer employee who currently has pre-settled status the situation is a bit different. If you hired an EU employee after 1 July 2021 you are legally obliged to monitor their pre-settled status expiry, and you should ensure a follow-up check before the pre-settled status is due to expire.
For any pre-settled employee you can ask (but not require) them to share the date they anticipate becoming eligible for settled status. The earliest date will be 5 years since they moved to the UK and could be in advance of the date their pre-settled status expires. This is not legally necessary for an employer to do, but it might help remind the employee of when they’re eligible to apply or settled status.
How can you support your employees with their application?
No-one wants to risk losing valuable employees, but as an employer there are certain measures you can take in order to help support any EU citizen employees through their application process.
The best way to support your employees is to encourage them to apply for a settled status as soon as they are eligible; they don’t need to wait until their pre-settled status is about to expire. Applications are free and are generally quick and straight-forward to complete online, with a decision made within a few days. However, there are certain instances where further information or checks will be required, so it’s important that individuals are aware of this and have the necessary support in place. There is a wealth of information available regarding the scheme on the government’s EU Settlement Scheme page and a useful toolkit full of further resources and advice for employers too.