EU Settlement Scheme – 50 days to apply

Do you employ EU Citizens? Have your staff applied for Settled Status?  With applications for Settled Status to be in by 30 June 2021, NFU Scotland’s Policy Team state that time is of the essence to avoid disruption.

The UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme ensures that any EU citizen who does not already have indefinite leave to remain, and who was living and working in the UK in a seasonal, temporary, or permanent capacity before 31 December 2020, can retain their rights to live and work here.  

“Keeping good workers makes good business sense for farmers”, says George Jamieson, Education & Skills Policy Manager.

“Knowledge, experience and skills are a long-term investment, hard to replace, and is essential to modern farming.  We know the significant value that migrant workers bring to the industry and their knowledge and skills developed over years of employment are essential. As an employer, it’s vital to be aware of the EU Settlement Scheme and its impending deadline.”

Settled and Pre-Settled Status ensures that EU citizens can stay in the UK indefinitely, and can also go on to work in the UK, travel in and out of the UK, use the NHS, enrol in education, or continue studying, and apply for British citizenship (if eligible).

Employers of seasonal workers from the EU who worked in the country in 2020 or before can encourage returnee workers to register for pre-settled status. Individuals who achieve pre-settled status can stay in the UK for a further five years from the date that pre-settled status is achieved. Pre-settled status also entitles individuals to up to two years in a row outside the UK without losing their status. This can be a big bonus for the soft fruit sector according to David Michie, Crops Policy Manager.

“Migrant workers are a critical part of the soft fruit and vegetable sectors’ success. Good workers that know the job and return every year are a huge asset to our members’ businesses, and it is in their best interests to encourage these workers to apply for settled status," said David.

When it comes to employers’ responsibilities, you do not legally have to tell your staff about the scheme, but if you employ EU Citizens, you should direct them to the Government support available if you haven’t already.  Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the individual to make an application to the Scheme and there is no requirement for them to tell you they have applied or the outcome of the application.  The UK Government highlight that you cannot discriminate against EU citizens, and this includes basing an offer of employment/continued employment dependent on having made an application to the Scheme or its outcome.  

Stuart Martin, Dairy Hub and Policy Manager commented on recent Hub enquires about the Settled Status Scheme and explained why it is important to be aware of the Scheme and imminent deadline to prevent possible problems down the line.

Stuart added: “Dairy Hub enquiries on this issue show it is important to be aware of this scheme to support your workers.  Because this is a technical topic, don’t hesitate to seek immigration advice if required.  There are lots of available resources to help employers, including the Union Brexit pages, but any specific enquires can be raised through the Hub, too.”

Where the Settled Status Scheme does not apply to certain workers, or the deadline is missed, employers should be aware of the new points-based system of immigration, which commenced on 1 January 2021.  This process applies to anyone outside the UK, including Irish citizens.  You will also be required to be a licensed sponsor to hire eligible employees from outside the UK.

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