UNITED KINGDOM: New Guidance on Right to Work Checks on EEA Citizens Following Brexit

June 18, 2021

EEA citizens and their family members arriving in the UK from 1 January 2021 no longer benefit from the free movement rights and the ability to work freely in the UK. During a grace period of six months (until 30 June 2021), EEA citizens and their family members resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

There is no requirement for retrospective right to work checks to be undertaken on EEA citizens, who were employed on or before 30 June 2021. Until this date, EEA national employees can continue to evidence their right to work via their passport or National ID Card. All checks must be taken in line with current Right to Work guidance and employers can make use of the Employer Checking Service to undertake their checks.

On 10 June 2021, the government published an updated draft code of practice on preventing illegal working, to reflect the changes for EEA citizens.

From 1 July 2021, EEA citizens and their family members require immigration status in the UK, in the same way as other foreign nationals. They can no longer rely on an EEA passport or national identity card, to prove their right to work.

Most EEA citizens resident in the UK will have made an application to the EU Settlement Scheme and will have been provided with digital evidence of their UK immigration status. They will evidence their right to work by sharing their immigration status digitally, using the Home Office online right to work service on GOV.UK.

There will however, be other EEA citizens who have another form of leave in the UK, which is held in a physical document, for example an endorsement in a passport, visa or vignette. These documents are included in the prescribed document lists, providing employers with a statutory excuse against liability for a civil penalty.

Our Advice

  • Employers responsible for carrying out right to work checks should familiarise themselves with the updated guidance to ensure that they are fulfilling their UK immigration obligations.
  • Employers are reminded to ensure their EEA population knows about the need to apply for settled or pre-settled status before 30 June 2021.

For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to the UK, please contact us.