On 23 June 2016 the UK voted in the EU Referendum to leave the European Union (EU). A majority of the population voted to Leave, rather than Remain, triggering the start of preparations for the UK withdrawing from the bloc.
The Prime Minister used the 2016 Queen’s Speech to reiterate the government’s commitment towards protecting and enhancing worker rights following Brexit.
Although it is not clear what amendments may be made to employment law, or when any changes will take effect, it is possible to predict that some changes will take place. However, one area that will see change is the rights of EU nationals to work in the UK.
The Home Office has confirmed that in a no-deal Brexit, free movement will end as soon as possible after 29 March 2019 and there will be a transitional period for EU workers. During this period, these citizens can freely travel to the UK for work for a period of 3 months.
For stays longer than 3 months the citizen will be required to apply for, and receive, European Temporary Leave to Remain which entitles the individual to remain in the UK for a further period of 3 years. For stays longer than this period, the individual will be required to apply for leave to remain under the new immigration system which focuses on skills, set to be introduced from 2021.
These provisions will not apply for Irish citizens who remain entitled to live, and work, in the UK under the Common Travel Area. Further details can be found in our in-depth sections.
In a speech on Monday 21 January 2019, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the fee attached to making an application under the EU Settlement Scheme will be abolished from 30 March 2019. Anyone who has, or will, pay a fee to make an application will be reimbursed; further details on reimbursement will be announced in due course.
Further details on the operation of the Settlement Scheme can be found in our in-depth section on 'EU nationals and the right to work in the UK'.