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Right to Work in the UK after Brexit

There are new rules for businesses and workers in the UK from 1st January 2021 when the Brexit transition period comes to an end and the UK continues the process of leaving the European Union.

What does this mean for employers when it comes to checking whether their existing employees or job applicants have the Right to Work in the UK?

There are no changes to the way Right to Work checks should be carried out until 30th June 2021, even for employees who are citizens of EU or EEA countries, or Switzerland, provided that they arrived in the UK before 1st January 2021.

All employers are currently required to check that a job applicant is allowed to work in the UK before they employ them. These checks can be carried out by either:

  • checking the applicant’s original documents or
  • checking the applicant’s right to work online, if they’ve given you their share code

An employer could face a fine if they employ an illegal worker and have not carried out a correct right to work check.

How will this change on 1st July 2021?

From the 1st July 2021, the UK’s new immigration system will apply. This system will treat all applicants equally, regardless of where they come from.

Anyone you want to recruit from outside the UK, excluding Irish citizens, needs to meet certain requirements and apply for permission first.

The requirements are different for each visa.

You will need to have a sponsor licence to hire most workers from outside the UK.

The new system will not apply to EEA or Swiss citizens you already employ in the UK. EEA and Swiss citizens who were living in the UK by 31st December 2020, and their family members, can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. They have until 30th June 2021 to apply.

What should employers do now regarding their EU citizen workers?

All employers should act now to:

  • Remind all current employees who are EU, EEA or Swiss nationals and their families to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme as soon as possible, and certainly before 30th June 2021
  • Continue current Right to Work checks until 30th June 2021 for employees who arrived in the UK before 1st January 2021
  • Ensure that employees arriving in the UK on or after 1st January 2021 have the correct visa as part of their Right to Work checks
  • After 30th June 2021 you will need to ask for proof of Settled or Pre-Settled Status as part of Right to Work checks.

This information is for guidance purposes only. For detailed advice, you should contact an immigration solicitor. Further information can also be found at

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