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EU Settle Status

EU Settle Status

Settle Status: EU Workforce

 

Do you have employees from the EU working within your business? Changes to the law may mean that they have to reapply to secure their residency status with the new EU Settle Status.

To make this transition period easier, we’ll be stepping you through what you need to know as an employer to support the welfare of these employees in such indefinite times.

What is the EU Settle Status?

 

On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union. Although no official deal has been agreed upon yet, changes have started to slowly filter through – one of the largest being ‘Settled Status’.

But what is settled status and why does it matter?

Settled status is the term for being a resident in the UK without any immigration restrictions on the length of your stay. There are two types of status in the EU Settlement Scheme:

  • Settled status
  • Pre-settled status

Settled Status:

 

EU citizens who are granted settled status are permitted to stay in the UK as long as they choose; they can also apply for a British citizenship if they are eligible.

 

Pre-settled Status:

 

Pre-settled status – which is usually granted to those who have not lived in the UK for five continuous years – allows inhabitants to stay in the UK for a further five years from the date they are granted pre-settled status. After this period, individuals can reapply for full settled status.

 

Important Notes:

 

The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021.

It is free to apply to the scheme through the government website.

Before beginning the application process for settlement status, applicants should have ready proof of identity and residency. It may also be worth double-checking that applicants have not already received pre-agreed settle status here.

 

What does this mean for employees?

 

Citizens of the EU, EEA or Switzerland can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. Without confirmed settlement status, these citizens will not have the assumed right to:

  • Work in the UK
  • Use the NHS for free
  • Enrol in education (or continue studying)
  • Access public funds, such as benefits (if eligible)
  • Enter the UK without a visa

Employees that do not have settled status face the potential risk of having paperwork refused, being unable to work legally in the UK and even deportation – uprooting their family, career and life.

Therefore, it is important to support your EU workforce through their application to ensure there is no disruption to their legal right to work or live in the UK after this deadline.

 

How can employers help?

Importance of application:

 

As employers, there is no legal requirement to inform your workforce of the impending deadline but it’s a good idea to ensure there are no legal hiccups (and it also feels like the right thing to do).

Employers do not require proof that employees have applied but getting status through the scheme will protect their future rights, so it is very important that they apply if you want them to continue working for you.

 

Encouraging application:

 

There are a few practical steps you can take to encourage your employees to apply.

Why not start by sending a letter to all your EU employees? It doesn’t have to take much time with letter templates already drafted up and ready to go. You can also ensure visual cues help prompt their minds by displaying informative posters.

Remember: although you can encourage people to apply, as an employer, you cannot ask them whether they have or about the outcome.

 

Supporting the process itself:

 

The process itself was designed to be as seamless as possible. However, with the added complication of coronavirus, a few spanners have been thrown in the works.

Due to many businesses being shut for a number of months and international travel complications, employees may have struggled to renew expiring passports. Therefore, workers may require flexible hours or additional holiday days to address this before their application.

Further, it may be useful to make your facilities available for support. For example, at this time, many printing shops and internet cafes are shut due to the pandemic. Therefore, pre-granting access for your employees to use your scanner, printer or work phone for their application may aid their progress.

Finally, although it is not standard procedure, if the employee requires any documentation to support their application then provide this in a timely manner; holding this process up will cause additional stress for the employee, distracting them from their work and prolonging indecision.

 

Managing stress:

 

The uncertainty formed in the last few months has had an impact on everyone. However, we must consider those who experience further doubt about their rights within the country compassionately.

Managing stress and keeping a close eye on employees is essential at all times. Look out for key indicators of deteriorating wellbeing, such as:

  • Reduced engagement
  • Missed deadlines
  • Lower morale
  • Increased tiredness

If you notice a significant shift in their wellbeing, it may be time to check in; look out for tell-tale signs of poor employee mental health and be ready to act.

Where possible, refer employees for additional support and be compassionate towards their situation. It may be worth considering ways you can support employees with stress outside of work with flexible working, duvet days or even a shift in the workplace culture.

The charity MIND has some great, free resources to help individuals manage stress – at work and home. Could sharing some of their best resources equip your taskforce with more resilience?

 

What next?

 

Considering your current employees is a great first step, but what about future employees?

Recruitment Process:

 

If you are planning on recruiting before the settlement deadline, it’s important that you don’t sit on your hands.

Speeding up your recruitment process will allow your business to:

  • Beat the deadline;
  • Widen your search for talent;
  • Allow the successful candidate (if from the EU) to apply for settlement status in time.

Discrimination

 

As an employer, you have a duty “not to discriminate against EU citizens in light of the UK’s decision to leave the EU as both a prospective and current employer”.

That means that you cannot make an offer of employment, or continued employment, dependent on an individual having made an application. However, consideration should not stop here; ensure you address workplace discrimination at all levels for a safe working environment for all.

Consider:

  • Checking your processes and procedures for bias
  • Educating employees on how to report discrimination
  • Including EU citizens in your diversity reports
  • Reminding employees of the fine line between ‘banter’ and discriminatory harassment
  • Ensuring you have the processes in place to address hostility appropriately

Right to work checks:

 

It has been confirmed that there will be no change to right to work checks until 1 January 2021. That means that job applicants can continue to prove their right to work using any of the following:

  • their valid passport or national identity card if they’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen
  • their valid biometric residence card if they’re a non-EU, EEA or Swiss citizen family member
  • their status under the EU Settlement Scheme using the Home Office’s online right to work checking service.

You will not be required to undertake retrospective checks on existing EU employees. Therefore, changes will only apply to applications in the new year.

For more information, read the official right to work checklist here.

 

More help

 

For official support on how employers should support the EU Settle Status scheme, GOV have created an ‘employer toolkit’ here.

However, if you require expert HR support and consultancy, please get in touch.

 

 

Kind people live longer

Kind people live longer

According to Lauren Turner in her BBC article  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-50266957 shared by the wonderful Alex Stephany CEO at Beam https://beam.org (a crowd funding platform to help homeless people into work) kindness helps us all to live longer.

Mr Daniel Kessler who heads up the  UCLA’s Bedari Kindness Institute (funded (to the tune of $20 million) by very kind people Jennifer and Matthew C Harris) says

‘Kindness, is “the thoughts, feelings and beliefs associated with actions intending to benefit others, where benefiting others is an end in itself, not a means to an end”.

And unkindness, on the other hand, is “intolerant beliefs, the lack of valuation of others’ welfare”.

It got me thinking, if I am to live a long life I must consciously try to be kinder, then companies could last longer if they were kinder too, after all a company is made up of its people right!

So, how better to be kind folks, than to look after your people and genuinely care about them. That’s why I am providing you with a Wellbeing policy for free (how kind is that) to show your people that you genuinely care.

Kindness should never be seen as a weakness.

Tortured geniuses. Every small business has one.

Tortured geniuses. Every small business has one.

I recently attended the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A in London. Even if you have no interest, or in my case the wallet, to purchase any couture or high end designer clothes, you could not fail to be in awe of the man’s extreme talent and unbelievable imagination. It did strike me though more than once when I was gazing at a structure for the head, aka a hat or an ethereal dress, how did this genius die alone hanging in a wardrobe in his home clearly having had enough? He had the world at his feet literally, surrounded by the world’s beauties, making pots of money for his employers, yet no one appeared to have any idea that the guy was in a state and about to take his own life. How can this happen? How can you spot the signs of stress, depression of mental health issues at work?

Spotting the signs of stress, depression or mental health issues at work

In my experience this is all too common unfortunately. Most of us either aren’t aware of the signs of stress, depression or mental health issues, or tip toe around them when we encounter them at work. It’s a hard thing to confront, but I firmly believe that employers can train their people to spot the signs and provide help. Shouting, explosions of tempers and crying are all sure fire signs all is not well, as is increased sickness absence, coming in hung-over, dilated eyes, unkempt appearance, dips in performance where previously there has not been any, rapid weight gain or loss, as well as firm denials when asked.

Clear policies are the route to a clear conscience

Now its not easy to tackle, or identify anything is wrong, but having an employee assistance scheme in place is a step forward Employee Assistance is otherwise known as EAP, which is basically a service employers can buy (usually from their Occupational Health provider like BUPA or HCA) where employees can ring a confidential helpline to discuss their problems and seek advice usually on divorce, debt, redundancy, depression, problems at work. Its totally confidential but can be very useful for some people. EAP doesn’t cost that much, and CrosseHR can help.

Even without EAP you can still make positive steps to supporting employees who are showing signs of stress, depression or mental health issues. Introduce a clear policy on how the organisation tackles stress (usually under Health & Safety policy or a separate policy), and have a nominated person or organisation that employees are made aware of as someone they go to initially if there is a problem – that might be someone internally such as Occupational Health, or external counselling services, the GP, or the Samaritans for example.

Whether you have an employee assistance scheme or simply an internal policy, make sure it’s well promoted, you foster a general atmosphere of openness, and promote good management practices – it’s amazing what regular 121’s between managers and their reports can reveal and not just about work. It all goes without saying that a ‘human HR person’ always helps and not one obsessed with the rule book! As a final note, the Mental Health Foundation itself calls for us to learn ‘mindfulness’ which is sound advice to any business. You can read more on that here.

Believe you me, and I have proof, if you spot a problem an employee is having, support them, offer them help and they sort it out, you will have a loyal, dedicated employee for a very very long time, not to mention a clear conscience !

 

Image credit: Nata Sha / Shutterstock.com