How should employers carry out right to work in the UK checks for European nationals following Brexit?
Employers must continue to carry out right to work checks for all workers before employing them, as was the case prior to Brexit.
Employers can continue to use European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss passports and national identity cards as evidence of an individual's right to work in the UK until 30 June 2021.
Employers can also use the online checking service to confirm that a candidate has settled or pre-settled status and therefore has the right to work in the UK. However, up to 30 June 2021, candidates do not have to agree to share their status using the online checking service. They can provide their passport or national identity card as an alternative. Government guidance suggests that, up to 30 June 2021, an employer that insists on seeing evidence of settled or pre-settled status risks a complaint of race discrimination.
Following the UK's departure from the EU on 31 January 2020, a transition period was in place until 31 December 2020. EEA and Swiss nationals who were in the UK before the end of the transition period have a grace period until 30 June 2021 in which to apply for either settled or pre-settled status, which will give them the right to work in the UK.
There is no requirement for employers to carry out retrospective right to work checks for existing EEA and Swiss national employees to confirm that they have settled or pre-settled status. In other words, if an employer has conducted a compliant right to work check for an EEA or Swiss national before 1 January 2021, it does not need to repeat this.
EEA and Swiss nationals entering the UK from 1 January 2021 will not be able to apply for settled or pre-settled status. Because free movement between the UK and the EEA ended on 31 December 2020, they will require a visa to be able to work in the UK under the new immigration system.
EEA and Swiss nationals are not required to share their settled or pre-settled status prior to 30 June 2021. This may present an issue for employers with new starters during the grace period between 1 January and 30 June 2021, as they may not know if the employee was already in the UK before 1 January 2021, and therefore whether or not they require a visa. Government guidance on right to work checks states that employers are "not expected to differentiate" between those who arrived before the end of the transition period and those who arrive during the grace period.