With a couple of months passing since the EU referendum, there are some major concerns as to what EU workers will do in the coming months and years. To start, it is important to note that we aren’t likely to see any major decisions for at least two years as this is the length of the legal process of actually leaving the EU. However, what about in the future?
As mentioned, the UK is still a member until two years after they give notice to the EU which means that EU workers will continue to be free to work and live in the UK. Currently, EU citizens can move to the UK without a visa and vice versa. Of course, there will need to be some preparation if EU citizens want to safeguard their stay.
Firstly, they can apply for a permanent residence if they have been in the UK for five or more years. As soon as they have permanent residence, they will be exempt from general immigration rules. Aside from this, they could also apply for an EEA certificate which allows EU citizens to live and work in the UK. If you’re an employer, you can support your workers by helping them through this application process.
After holding a permanent resident certificate for over a year, they can then apply to become a British citizen where they can receive a British passport. As an employer, you can provide them with advice and support as this decision will affect their voting, military service, tax, and their family.
In the long-term, it could become hard or even impossible for EU citizens to work in the UK and vice versa. In truth, we could go down the route of Norway where free trade and movement of workers is allowed with a financial contribution. Alternatively, the UK could agree separate deals with individual countries to allow movement of workers and free trade. As soon as the UK leaves the EU, EU citizens will have to comply with the immigration rules that are introduced.
As an employer, you will have to continually provide evidence that you are complying to the rules that have been put in place in order to protect your brand image, relationship with consumers, and even business partnerships. To prepare for the change, all employers should conduct a full review of their company to assess not only what position they are in now but where they will be in the future. If you have employers that are eligible for dual citizenship, this should be done before leaving the EU as it will allow them to travel and work freely without any problems.
So there we have it, there are actions that businesses can take in order to protect their EU workers. Ultimately, it depends on how long they have been in the country as well as the new rules that come into place. In time, we will see what actions are taken but starting the process now may just allow your workers to stay with your company and in the country.