Guidance for startups and small businesses looking to retain and employ EU nationals after the Brexit transition period ends.
Read time: 2 minutes
Register for a sponsor licence to employ EU citizens from 1 January 2021
Commit to regular, clear communication with EU employees
Retain Right to Work checks for two years
The Brexit transition period will end on 31 December 2020, bringing in a new set of rules for startups, small businesses and EU nationals. This short guide will provide you with guidance about employing EU nationals in 2021 and beyond.
EU Settlement Scheme
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members living in the UK by 31 December 2020 can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Those eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme must apply by 30 June 2021. People who have lived in the UK for at least five years are eligible for ‘settled status’ — meaning you can live in the UK indefinitely. Those who have lived in the UK for less than five years can apply for ‘pre-settled status’ and later for settled status.
New immigration system
From 1 January 2021, the UK will introduce a points-based immigration system. Startups looking to employ EU citizens arriving from 1 January will need to apply for a Skilled Worker Licence — which costs £536 for smaller companies and £1,476 for large employers.
Apply early. The Home Office says it will take up to eight weeks for a business to receive their Skilled Worker License. However, due to a predicted rush towards the end of the year, the Government is advising employers to make their application now. For more information on how to become a sponsor and the application process, read the government’s latest guidance here.
Sponsorship management roles
You will need to apply for a sponsor licence so you can sponsor foreign workers. The government says you must appoint people within the business to manage the sponsorship process. You must have an authorising officer: a senior team member who can oversee the process. You must have a key contact to liaise with UK visas and immigration. You must also have a level 1 user for day-to-day management.
How much does it cost? Startups will also need to budget for migrant workers from the EU. The sponsorship licence costs up to £1,500—depending on the size of your business. There is an immigration skill charge of £364 per worker per year if you are a small business, or £1,000 if you are a medium or large sponsor.
Startups must check that a foreign worker has the skills and qualifications required for the position and retain Right to Work documents. The startup must have HR systems able to monitor your employee’s immigration status, track their attendance and report any issues to UK Visas and Immigration. Failure can result in a civil penalty of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker.