Recruiting and Employing non-UK nationals in a post-Brexit World

Jan 25, 2021 | HR, Legal Updates

If you are recruiting and employing non-UK nationals or planning to in the near future, this is important information that you’ll need to bear in mind. Let’s look at current and future employees in turn.

Current employees

Any EEA citizen who was already in the UK before 31 December 2020 must make a settlement application under the EU Settlement Scheme with a deadline of 30 June 2021.

If they are successful, they will be given either pre-settled status or settled status depending on how long they’ve been in the UK already (settled status is 5 years plus continuous residence).

They will then be able to:

  • Work in the UK;
  • Use the NHS for free if they can at the moment;
  • Enrol in education or study in the UK;
  • Access public funds such as benefits and pensions if eligible;
  • Travel in and out of the UK.

What do you need to do?

There is no legal obligation for you to communicate about the EU Settlement Scheme. If you do choose to communicate this to your staff, you should direct them to the relevant information and be careful not to interpret information or provide specific advice. You can access more information about the EU Settlement Scheme to make sure you are well-informed.

It is up to the individual to apply and they are not required to inform you if they have nor to inform you of the outcome of their application. You should not check that an employee has applied.

Right to work checks

Until 30 June 2021, you should check right to work in the UK as usual, i.e. a valid passport, national identity card or valid biometric residence card.

After 30 June, you will be able to check the employee’s digital status under the EU Settlement Scheme – they can generate a share code for you to check. This applies too if you employ someone after 30 June who is already resident in the UK.

Recruiting post-Brexit

If you wish to employ someone after 30 June who is not yet resident in the UK, you will need to follow some key steps (briefly outlined below).

  1. You must gain a sponsorship licence via UK Visas and Immigration;
  2. You must demonstrate that you are a genuine and solvent business;
  3. You must pay a fee;
  4. You must ensure that you meet sponsor responsibilities on an ongoing basis;
  5. You can then issue a Certificate of Sponsorship allowing an individual to apply for a Skilled Worker visa along with a job offer;
  6. The job must be at or above the minimum skill level;
  7. Salary requirements also apply.

Bear in mind that it can take up to 8 weeks to get a sponsorship licence but there is no guarantee that your application will be successful.

Even if successful, the Certificate of Sponsorship does not automatically mean that the prospective employee will be given a visa to come to the UK.

What are sponsor responsibilities?

You must:

  • Check that your foreign workers have the necessary skills, qualifications or professional accreditations to do their jobs, and keep copies of documents showing this;
  • Only assign certificates of sponsorship to workers when the job is suitable for sponsorship;
  • Tell UK Visas and Immigration if your sponsored workers are not complying with the conditions of their visa;
  • Have suitable HR systems in place for monitoring their immigration status, keeping copies of relevant documents, tracking and recording their attendance and keeping contact details up to date;
  • Report to UKVI if there is a problem, e.g. if your employee stops coming to work.

Contact us for more information and expert advice.


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