As our parcels are delayed and some groceries appear lacking, we are reminded that Brexit will have unforeseen implications for some time to come. That is most likely the case in terms of employment and HR matters.

The key issues, for now, would appear to be the following:

Checks for EU workers – what needs to be done?
EU workers who were resident in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 can continue to be employed; no further checks are necessary. Employers should continue to encourage all EU workers in that category to apply for settled status should they wish to remain working in the UK without a visa post 30 June 2021. Employers cannot force EU employees to do so and neither do they have a right to ask. Recent reports still show many EU citizens are unaware of the settlement scheme and so employers are advised to provide relevant information and assistance with any applications.

Employment EU workers from 1 January 2021
Free movement of workers across the EU ceased at midnight on 31 December 2020. As a result, any employer wishing to employ a foreign national (non-British or non-Irish) after that date must be a licensed sponsor and the potential employee must have the relevant points under the Government’s points system guidance.

Will EU based legislation remain in place?
Under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement signed on 24 December 2020, the UK and the EU agreed that it will not reduce employment rights below the standards as at 31 December 2020 "where those rights affect trade". This is, therefore, an agreement but with strings! The UK can change its employment rights but not if it puts the UK in an advantageous position in trade deals. The rights of the UK workforce were not front and centre in that arrangement, hence the concern raised by some unions about an inevitable erosion of employment rights over the coming months and years. The Government has given certain promises that it will protect UK workers and that there is no cause for concern. Without a particularly effective crystal ball, we do not know the veracity of that statement but can only confirm that for the immediate future all the EU derived UK employment legislation will remain on our statute book for the immediate future.

For a longer version of this ebriefing do refer to our 'Employment Brexit changes' ebriefing.

For more information

For further information in relation to any of the above, please contact your relevant ACS contact or Katherine Sinclair.