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 date when the UK is expected to leave the EU (originally the 29 March 2019) was delayed to 31 October 2019. However, this was since delayed again until 31 January 2020, and, on this date, the UK officially left the EU.
Although a withdrawal agreement was successfully negotiated and passed by both the UK and EU Parliament, a transition period is now in place until December 2020 to work out future trade agreements with the EU. Although an extension of this period could potentially happen if necessary, Prime Minister Boris Johnson affirmed in the 2019 General Election that no further extensions to the Brexit process would occur.
It has not currently been confirmed if the 2020 coronavirus outbreak will serve to delay the Brexit transitional period, which is set to end on December 31 2020. However, negotiations between the UK and the EU have been pushed back as all countries work to respond to the developing coronavirus situation.
Originally scheduled for 29 March 2019, this date the UK was to officially leave the EU was delayed to 31 October 2019 and was delayed again until 31 January 2020. On this date, the UK left the EU.
Until 1 January 2021, the Home Office has confirmed that right to work checks on EU and EEA nationals will continue as normal, under the processes laid out within the prevention of illegal working guidance published in January 2019.
There will be no requirement on organisations to differentiate between those citizens who were resident in the UK before, or after, the date of the exit. Instead, the normal documentary or online right to work checks can be carried out (for more information, see our employment law pages on foreign nationals).