Employers and EU citizens
All EU citizen employees must have immigration leave and the right to work.
Irish citizens are the exception as their rights to live, work and access public services in the UK are protected under the Common Travel Area arrangement.
When employing an EU citizen for the first time, employers must check they have a right to work. See below for more details. Employers that employ someone without the right to work could face a civil penalty of up to £20,000.
EU Citizens who lived in the UK by 31 December 2020
EU citizens who arrived by 31 December 2020 may have one of the following types of status;
- Settled - EU Citizens who have Settled Status have the right to work in Scotland indefinitely
- Pre-settled status - EU Citizens who have Pre-Settled Status have the right to work in Scotland until the expiration of their Pre-Settled Status. If your employee missed the deadline, they can still apply if they were living in the UK by 31 December 2020 and believe they have a good reason for applying late provided you have evidence to support this
There is guidance available which provides information on what the UK Government consider reasonable grounds for late applications.
Support for employees making late applications may be available through Citizens Advice Scotland and the Citizens’ Rights Project. The details of these projects are outlined below under the Support section of this page.
If your employee arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020
EU citizens who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020 must:
- apply through the new immigration rules
- have leave that allows them to work
As an employer you will need to be registered as a sponsor to enable employment of EU citizens under the Skilled Worker route in most cirucmstances.
Employing EU, EEA and Swiss citizens from 1 July 2021
There is no requirement for a retrospective right to work check to be undertaken on EU citizens who entered into employment on or before 30 June 2021.
You will maintain a continuous statutory excuse against a penalty if the initial checks were undertaken according to the government's guidance.
When employing someone for the first time, you should follow the Home Office right to work checks.
Irish citizens can continue to use their passport or passport card to prove their right to work. All other EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will no longer be able to use their passport or national identity card to prove their right to work. You’ll need to check their right to work online using:
- a share code
- their date of birth
You can also check someone’s original documents instead if they do not have a UK immigration status that can be shared with you digitally.
You must the adhere to the code of practice for employers and not discriminate when conducting right to work checks.
If you employ someone and then after they start work their immigration status changes, you will have a ‘continuous statutory excuse’.
Find Business Support has the latest information and guidance to Scottish businesses with EU employees.
Employer Enquiry helpline
If you need help carrying out a right to work check you should call the UK Government’s Employer Enquiry helpline:
Telephone: 0300 790 6268
Closes: 4.45pm except Friday when it closes at 4.30pm
The Scottish Government provides funding to TalentScotland for their Immigration and Visa Support Service (IVSS). This provides business immigration support to a wide range of Scottish-based businesses, prospective entrepreneurs, and inward investors from around the globe.
For more information email: email@example.com.
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