Q- One of our clients has a number of EU workers who have asked them about applying for settled status. What can they do to help?
A- Clients are likely to receive an influx of questions following the recent announcement on the settled status application process for EU workers. Although the Home Office has placed the emphasis of applying for settled status firmly with the individual, it would be within your client’s interest to make staff aware of these requirements and provide support where possible to relieve uncertainty surrounding post-Brexit staff shortages.
In order to help EU workers, clients should first familiarise themselves with the process of applying for settled status. According to the Home Office, settled status will be available for all EU nationals who have lived in the UK for five years prior to 31st December 2020. Applications will need to be submitted via the government’s official website at a cost of £65 for adults and £32.50 for children. The application itself will consist of 3 simple questions for which individuals will be asked to provide a simple form of identification, disclose any previous criminal convictions and confirm their current living arrangements in the UK.
Clients should keep abreast of this issue and up to date with any future developments. This is particularly important for those working in industries such as retail and hospitality which tend to have a higher concentration of EU workers. Clients should ensure that HR staff is familiar with the protocol and comfortable enough to address employee queries on the matter. For the most part, the government’s official channels should have all the information required for EU nationals and affected staff should be directed to these channels accordingly.
Certain workers may find the application process more difficult than others due to a lack of English language skills. Whilst the Home Office has confirmed translation services will be provided it may be suitable for clients to help explain certain aspects of the application process to staff. However, to minimise the risk of erroneous applications clients should not under any circumstances complete applications on behalf of their employees.Having a proactive attitude and informing individuals about the application process is important. This will show EU workers that they are valued within your client’s organisation and encourage staff retention. However, it is important to strike a balance between providing assistance and interfering. The decision to apply for a settled status and remain in the UK will be an important and deeply personal one for most individuals. Not all staff will wish to apply and your client should keep this in mind and avoid punishing or discriminating against those who choose not to.
Thankfully for employers, the settled status application process appears to be one aspect of the Brexit negotiations that has been universally agreed upon. To proactively deal with employee queries a concise and appropriate response should be prepared which offers simple practical guidance whilst ensuring the responsibility remains firmly with affected staff.