Countdown to Brexit: 5 days – UK Government publishes final warnings to prepare for no-deal

HMRC have published and distributed a ‘European Union Exit edition’ mailshot to tens of thousands of UK businesses this weekend.  It lists some of the impacts on business and citizens that will hit in 5 days’ time if there is a no-deal Brexit.  It aims to list and highlight some of the key issues so that managers and owners can decide where they are impacted – and where to invest time in digging deeper into the thousands of pages of detailed requirements set out in over 100 ‘Technical Notices’.

In summary:

  • Immediate action.  Needed around social security contributions for businesses with employees working in the EU, the European Economic Area, or Switzerland. 

  • Immediate action.  Prepare for changes to process for imports/exports for any business trading exclusively with the EU.  Apply for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number now,

  • Coming soon.  Grants available for IT and training to customs intermediaries and businesses who will need to complete their own customs declarations.

  • Update available.  Businesses that employ people from the EU on the Government’s settlement scheme.

  • Update available.  From Defra If you use chemicals in your work.

We have posted a number of articles on trading regulations and requirements, tariffs, finance and insurance, agriculture, farming and fishing.  For this we make post a five-minute read on every businesses’ most important asset – people.

Given the valuable contribution EU citizens make to businesses and organisations across the UK, employers may want to communicate with their EU staff about the EU Settlement Scheme.

Deal or no-deal, the UK Government has committed to protect the rights of EU citizens and their family members currently living in the UK.  This includes the right to live, work and study here - with continued access to public services such as healthcare and schools, and access to public funds such as pensions and benefits.

However, to retain these rights after 31 December 2020, EU citizens need to apply for a ‘UK immigration status’ under the ‘EU Settlement Scheme’.  Following a successful pilot, the EU Settlement Scheme is now fully open.

The Scheme provides a process for EU citizens and their family members who want to stay in the UK to acquire the UK immigration settle status.

Applications to the Scheme are now free.  Fees were chargeable during the pilot phase - but this has recently changed and any fees previously paid have been reimbursed.

Applications are online and have three steps: proof of identity; demonstrate applicants live in the UK; and declaration of any criminal convictions.

There are different routes for applicants to have their identity documents checked including: scanning identity documents using an Android phone; visiting one of the ID verification locations; or sending documents by post.

Employers are under no obligation to take any action regarding the EU Settlement Scheme.  However, given the importance of EU citizens to many organisations and the valuable contribution they make to diverse workplaces, many employers will want to offer their EU colleagues reassurance and support - signposting the application process and encouraging EU staff to apply.

The Home Office has produced a download-able communications toolkit for employers, referenced, below.   

Employers have a duty not to discriminate against EU citizens in light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.  

Current right-to-work checks (e.g. passport and/or national ID card) apply until the end of 2020 - and there will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK until then.

Citizens’ Rights for EU Employees will be key to assuring and motivating staff that they and their families are valued, not just by business, but by the nation as a whole.

In the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal the UK government has announced the following with regard to accessing benefits:

EU citizens and their family members lawfully residing in the UK before the UK leaves the EU:

  • will be able to continue to work, study and access benefits and services on broadly the same basis as they do now.

  • For those currently in receipt of UK Child Benefit or UK Tax Credits, payments will continue after the UK leaves the EU as long as relevant eligibility criteria continue to be met.

  • For those currently claiming UK Child Benefit and UK Child Tax Credit for a child resident in an EU country (‘exporting’) - you will be able to continue to receive these benefits, as long as they continue to meet the entitlement criteria.

  • Continuing entitlement to UK benefits and UK Tax Credits will be subject to any future changes to the rules that apply to UK nationals.

EU citizens arriving after the UK leaves the EU:

EU citizens arriving after exit who have 3 months’ or 36 months’ leave under transitional arrangements will be entitled to access to social security payments on the same basis as they would have now.  This will apply until the future immigration system is introduced by the Home Office in January 2021.

UK nationals in the EU receiving UK Child Benefit:

  • UK nationals in the EU will continue to get their UK benefits including Child Benefit as long as relevant eligibility criteria continue to be met;

  • The Government continues to call for EU Member States to protect the rights of UK nationals in the EU in the event of a no deal.

References

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/792770/Employer_Bulletin_EU_Exit.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-employer-toolkit