FAQs on the movement of people and workers after the transition period
After the transition period the freedom of movement for UK and EU citizens between the UK and EU Member States will end.
The UK and the EU have agreed some limited movement rights for workers and for short term stay. This allows fly-in fly-out services as well as the intra-transfer of employees within companies which operate across both the UK and the EU.
For long term stay and residency businesses should refer to the UK's points-based immigration system from 1 January 2021. Further details on this can be found here.
EU citizens resident in the UK should seek to apply for the EU settlement scheme. This a free scheme which can be applied to up until 30 June 2021.
If your application is successful, EU citizens will be granted either settled or pre-settled status.
Settled status will allow permeant residency in the UK, while pre-settled status will allow for a further five years of residency from the date pre-settled status is granted.
More information on the UK’s EU Settlement scheme can be found here.
UK citizens living in EU member states should seek information from the immigration department of that member state. Each member state may have a distinct regime for UK citizen settlement after the transition period.
Please note Irish and UK citizens will still be able to move freely and settle between the UK, Ireland and the Crown Dependencies (Bailiwick of Jersey, Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Isle of Man) through the Common Travel Area after the end of the transition period.
techUK has provided answers to some frequently asked questions on the movement of people after end of the transition period below.
Business trading with the EU should seek to follow Government guidance and, where needed, independent legal advice.
I am an EU national living in the UK, what status do I have once the transition period has expired on 1 January 2021?
The Home Office has provided clear guidelines on the position of EU/EEA/Swiss nationals in the UK after the transition period.
EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who are already residing in the UK at the end of the transition period will be able to continue residing and working in the UK.
They will be required to register for Settled or Pre-Settled Status in the UK by 30 June 2021. This will allow EU/EEA/Swiss nationals to extend their leave to remain up to five years or indefinitely if an application for settled status is successful.
I employ an EU national(s) in my business who has been given pre-settled status, do they need a different contract/ what are my obligations?
No, there is no need to issue up-dated contractual terms to your EU staff who have been given pre-settled status.
In terms of employer obligations, applications to register under the EU Settlement Scheme are an individual’s responsibility. However, good staff communication will help everyone understand more fully the steps that they need to take and feel more ready for the end of the transition period.
Employers should be mindful of their legal limitations in this regard. You are not permitted under law to assist applicants in the actual application process or do the application for them. You should also be aware that doing so may expose you to liabilities should that person’s application prove unsuccessful.
There is no obligation to re-check the right to work for existing EU staff. Changes to the right to work check process for new members of staff will take effect from July 2021.
What do I do if an EU national employee does not want to register via the EU Settlement scheme?
As there is no requirement to request evidence that an existing employee has registered under the EU Settlement Scheme, there is no legal obligation to take any action on an employee who refuses to register.
However, employers may wish to advise their EU population that it is in their best interest to ensure that they register in order to access housing, healthcare etc.
Most importantly, if they change employers after 1 July 2021 without having registered under the EU Settlement Scheme, their new employer will not legally be allowed to hire them. Similarly, if an EU national who has not registered under the scheme travels out of the UK post 30 June 2021, they may also face difficulties upon return to the UK.
I am currently hiring an EU national/ accepting a job as an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen what do I need to do?
EU/EEA/Swiss nationals will require work authorization if they intend to work in the UK after 1 July 2021.
This can either be obtained by applying through the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021 or the new UK points-based immigration system.
There is no change to your current obligations to check new employees' right to work documentation. The Home Office has said that there is no obligation for you to retrospectively check any EU/EEA/Swiss nationals' status.
EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens can continue to use your passport or national identity card to prove you can work in the UK until 30 June 2021.
You will need to check the right to work of new EU nationals that you wish to hire from 1 July 2021. The requirements for employers will be set out through the UK’s new immigration system.
One of my employees is an EU national but has permanent residency, do they need to do anything?
The employee will still need to register for Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme even if they hold an EEA Permanent Residence Card.
Settled Status will be issued to qualifying EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who have proof of 5+ years of residence in the UK.
Settled Status is akin to Indefinite Leave to Remain (which is already existing Permanent Residence status granted to all those who are eligible, not only EU/EEA/Swiss nationals) and allows those with it to work and reside in the UK indefinitely.
I employ an EU national in the UK with a spouse and dependents who live with them, what do they need to do for their family if there is no deal?
EU/EEA/Swiss or non-EU/EEA/Swiss family members of an EU/EEA/Swiss national who are already resident in the UK will be eligible to apply for Settled or Pre-Settled Status.
One of my employees, with a UK passport, will be working in another EU Member State after the 31 December– will they need a visa?
UK workers may be required to take extra steps in order to legally work or services in the EEA. This may vary between EU Member States. Please refer to the UK Government's country by country guides for selling services to the EEA if your employee is carrying out short term work.
If your employee needs to remain in the EEA for a longer posting, i.e. over three months at any one time then they will likely require a visa or work permit. In this case members should refer to the immigration authorities of the EU Member State in which you are doing business.
How will future travel to the EU for the servicing of contracts or other purposes be affected?
UK nationals will need to assess whether the activities that they will be carrying out are covered by the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
The UK-EU TCA allows visa free travel, including for work, for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. However not all activities can be carried out visa free. The agreement contains a list of permitted activities which can be undertaken without requiring a visa or economic needs test.
For the vast majority of in person activities techUK members engage in there will be no requirement for a visa or an economic needs test. The list of permitted activities covers meetings, sales, consultancy work and post-lease/sales services such as repair, maintenance and the work of specialised staff related to the lease/sale.
There is no general visa free exemption for artists, musicans or for journalists, members who support workers in this category should look for UK and Member State specific exemptions.
Members should also bear in mind that individual Member States have listed reservations against the overall agreement meaning that in some EU Member States there will be more limited coverage on supplying services in person. For example there will be a requirment for an economic needs test will be needed for workers who provide a service in person when travelling to Denmark, Croatia or Cyprus.
techUK members are encouraged to refer to the annexes of the UK-EU TCA (Annex servin-3: business visitors for establishment purposes, intra-corporate transferees and short-term business visitors pg 749 - 754) for specific details, please also see here UK Government guidance, including country-by-country guides on the trade in services.
Will the mutual recognition of professional qualifications continue if the UK leaves the EU without a deal?
The UK and EU did not reach agreement on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications. This means accountants, lawyers and others with recognised professional qualifications may need to seek recognition with the appropriate UK, EU or Member state level body in order to continue cross border working.
Professional services also have a number of Member State level exemptions, UK and EU based lawyers, auditors and other professional service providers are strongly encouraged to seek guidance from their qualification provider or association.
The UK Government has provided country by country guides, as well as additional guidance for lawyers and auditors.
Will EU/EEA/Swiss Frontier workers be able to continue working in the UK after the transition period?
A frontier worker is an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen that lives outside of the UK but is employed or self-employed in the UK and commutes to the UK regularly for this reason.
Frontier workers that began employment or self-employment in the UK by 31 December 2020 will be able to continue working in the UK as such. After 31 December 2020, new frontier workers will need to register for a frontier worker permit. Guidance can be found here.
If a frontier worker stops frontier working and starts living in the UK before 30 June 2021, they will need to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme. If they fail to meet the requirements for the EU Settlement Scheme, they will need to apply for leave to remain through the new immigration system.
Further information on Frontier workers’ rights after Brexit can be found on the Frontier workers' rights page of the Home Office website.
Will UK nationals who are Frontier workers be able to continue to work in the EU accordingly after the transition period?
A frontier worker is UK citizen that lives outside of the EU/EEA/ Switzerland, is employed or self-employed in the EU/EEA and commutes to the EU/EEA regularly for this reason.
At the end of the transition period, UK nationals who are frontier workers in the EU will be subject to each individual EU country's immigration rules.
Some EU countries have indicated that they will adopt measures that are reciprocal to the UK. The specific requirements for how a UK national can protect their right of residence in an EU country will be unique to each EU/EEA country.
Many EU/EEA countries require proof of accommodation in order to register or obtain a residence permit and hotel/Air BnB bookings are often not accepted.
Are the rules for working in and traveling to the EU uniform among all Member States?
No, UK nationals will need to adhere to the immigration rules set out by each individual EU Member State if seeking to work and reside in that Member State post-Brexit. There are also difference between member states in terms of the services that can be provided by UK workers and companies.
The UK Government has provided country by country guides, as well as additional guidance for lawyers and auditors to help you identify what steps you may need to take to continue travelling for work purposes.
Will there be any changes for remote workers who are employed by an entity in one country but work from a separate country?
There may be an impact on remote workers, depending on the country in which they are employed (i.e. where their employment contract is held) and the country in which they are currently working from.
If employees need to periodically travel to the UK, but principally reside somewhere else while providing work remotely they will most likely be considered a Frontier Worker.
Frontier workers that began employment or self-employment in the UK by 31 December 2020 will be able to continue their existing arrangements for working in the UK. However after 31 December 2020, new frontier workers will need to register for a frontier worker permit. Guidance can be found here.
Further information on Frontier workers’ rights after Brexit can be found on the Frontier workers' rights page of the Home Office website. The UK Government has also provided general guidance for UK Nationals working and living in Europe, this can be found here.
How will Brexit affect the social security position for internationally mobile employees employed by UK entities?
The UK and the EU have reached a deal on social security coordination under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement please see here HMRC guidance on employees working abroad.