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Brexit: supporting your European employees in the UK & British employees abroad

As the UK prepares for the end of the Brexit transition, new laws will be coming into place from 1st January 2021 which will affect businesses, as well as the people who work in them. But what are the expectations on you as an employer?


Here, our Employment Law team answer some of the most frequently asked questions about what companies can do to support their staff in the months ahead, and especially those with European citizenship and British nationals working abroad.


Can my European employees safely remain in the UK after Brexit?

If your staff members are from the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland then they will need to apply to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. They must have applied for settled or pre-settled status by this date to be covered otherwise they will be “illegal immigrants”.


Note that those with permanent residence will still need to apply.


The process starts on the website and applications are open now:



I have British employees working in European countries, what do I need to know?


At the moment, we are still waiting to hear from the Government what the exact terms of the Brexit deal will be. It is expected that there will be similar reciprocal rights conferred upon British nationals residing in the EU, and under the current Withdrawal Agreement, British nationals may still have their rights covered, however it is worth checking the website for specific information depending on the country:

In the meantime, British nationals should make sure they are registered as a resident in the country in which they are working.

What about employing European citizens after Brexit?

You must make sure potential employees have settled status once the UK has left the EU. Those moving to the UK to start working from January 2021 must hold a relevant visa. We expect more guidance from the Government to be released on this by the end of the year.

I have staff who travel with an EU identity card, what needs to happen?

From the start of next year, EU, EEA and Swiss national identity cards will not be sufficient to enter the UK. Only passports will be accepted and so it is worth notifying your European staff now if they do not have one in place to ensure that there is no disruption to your business as a result of this change.


I employ hauliers who travel between the UK and Europe, will they be exempt?


According to the Government’s website, hauliers will need a Kent Access Permit to proceed to the border from the start of next year. While in the current transition period, freedom of movement still remains in place.


Could things still change regarding the effects of Brexit on employment law?

At present, the Government is still in the midst of negotiations with the EU and we do not have final details of what the Brexit deal will or will not be. It is worth regularly checking the Government’s guidance on their transition page for up-to-date information:

In the meantime, we recommend contacting our Employment Law team if you need any help preparing or would like to check where you stand when considering European candidates for vacancies.


Brexit contingency plans

Employers and the EU national employees face a period of continuing uncertainty. To mitigate against this, employers may consider taking some of the following steps:

  1. Stabilise: reinforce diversity policies, take swift action in the event of a breach, keep employees updated on Brexit developments and provide information about how to safeguard immigration status, supporting those employees who wish to protect their UK immigration status.
  2. Review: undertake an audit of current employees and their immigration status and consider who may be at risk of losing their status as a result of Brexit changes.
  3. Future-proof: have a strategy in place from 01 January 2021 which deals with the ability to resource staffing requirements, any new system or HR process that might be needed, especially if you need to become a licensed sponsor for the first time, and budget for the additional cost of, and the timescales involved in, employing staff.


For help with any of these issues please contact our Employment Law team in Chesterfield, Sheffield and Mansfield for a convenient virtual appointment on 01246 560 560.


Photo by Ethan Wilkinson on Unsplash
Katie Ash
  • Director
  • Solicitor
  • Head of Employment Law

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