Post Brexit changes to Right to Work checks – what you need to know

by James Waby, Recruitment Industry Specialist

On the 31st December 2020, freedom of movement between the United Kingdom and European Union will end. In its place, the UK government’s planned points-based immigration system will come into force. This will not distinguish between EU and non-EU nationals, and is designed to attract people who can contribute to the UK’s economy regardless of their place of origin.

The new guidance does not apply to Irish citizens. Irish citizens will continue to have the right to work in the UK after Brexit. They will also be able to prove their right to work as they do now – by using their passport, for instance.

Prior to 31st December 2020 there will be no changes to the way in which individuals from the EU, EEA or Switzerland prove their right to work in the UK.

UK employers should continue to conduct right to work checks on all prospective applicants to ensure they comply with the rules on illegal working and avoiding unlawful discrimination. Employers must also retain clear records of workers’ rights to work in the UK for the duration of the employment and for a period of two years afterwards.


What’s changing

A new points-based immigration system will apply to people arriving in the UK from 1 January 2021 and as part of this EU citizens moving to the UK to work will need to get a visa in advance.

Types of visas include visitor, student as well as:

  • Skilled worker visa – EU citizens applying for a skilled worker visa will need to show they have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor. The job will need to be at the required skill (equivalent to A level), the applicant will need to speak English, and the salary will need to meet the relevant threshold.
  • Global talent scheme visa – allows highly-skilled scientists and researchers to come to the UK without a job offer.


What should recruiters and HR professionals do?

Employers and HR professionals should provide EEA nationals with regular, clearly communicated support where possible, recommending that such employees (and their family members) register with the EU Settlement Scheme by 30th June 2021 so that they can continue to live in the UK after that date.

If an EEA national is living in the UK before 31st December 2020, they can apply for a settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.  Which status is awarded depends on how long the applicant has been living in the UK at the time of application.  More than 3.7 million applications have been made so far.

With all this in mind, it’s critical that recruiters and HR professionals review their recruitment process to ensure that they can maintain right to work compliance. It’s important, too, to keep an eye out for potential changes to checks for new employees after January 2021.

Access Right to Work is an easy to use mobile app and cloud-based management portal.  In less than five steps it confirms an applicant’s eligibility to work in the UK, as well as storing proof of compliance.  It couldn’t be easier to get up and running here.

Looking for a full screening (including Right to Work) software? Find out more here.

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