At an EU summit last week, Prime Minister Theresa May revealed her plans for the status of EU migrants post Brexit. The headline of the plan is the introduction of a “settled status” where migrants will essentially have the same rights as UK citizens (without the right to vote) provided they have been in the UK for at least 5 years. Those who have not been here for 5 years will be allowed to remain and apply for settled status once they have reached the threshold.
She said; “I want to reassure all those EU citizens who are in the UK, who have made their lives and homes in the UK, that no one will have to leave. We will not see families split apart. This is a fair and serious offer.”
Although already promised, the announcement that no one will have to leave should give reassurance to employers who are unsure of the future particularly if they are in an industry with a high proportion of EU migrants, such as hospitality, agriculture and fishing.
The announcement has been generally welcomed, however, there is still some uncertainty about who will be the guarantor of these rights either the UK, the European Court of Justice or the International Court of Justice in The Hague. A CIPD survey published in February found a quarter of employers had EU employees that were considering leaving the organisation as a result of Brexit. Further research from the Migration Observatory found that National Insurance applications from the A8 countries (Eastern European states that joined the EU in 2004) had almost halved from 40,000 to 26,000 in one year.
It is important for employers to stay up to date with the developments of this story so they can make appropriate plans and also, they may get questions from their staff who need reassurance.