Agreement has been reached over the status of EU and UK nationals up to the end of the transition period. For EU nationals (including EEA and Swiss nationals) coming to the UK and British nationals going to the EU, nothing changes between now and 31 December 2020 meaning businesses will be able to continue to recruit on the basis of free movement rules.
The Common Travel Area and associated rights between the UK and Ireland will continue to operate and apply to Irish and UK nationals. Therefore, Irish nationals can continue to enter and work in the UK, and British nationals can continue to enter and work in the Republic of Ireland, without restriction.
The UK has already introduced a mandatory registration scheme for EU nationals (who do not also hold a British or Irish passport) living in the UK, called the EU Settlement Scheme (“the Scheme”). Employers need to ensure that their employees are informed of, and make an application under the Scheme before the closing date (currently set to be 30 June 2021). If an application is not made, an employee may have difficulty proving their right to live and work in the UK.
A Republic of Ireland born Irish national who resides in the UK, does not have to make an application under the Scheme, however in certain circumstances it may be advantageous to do so. These individuals should seek further advice in relation to their rights and their families’.
Some existing business travellers or commuters will be frontier workers and can continue their current arrangements. For example, an EU national (who does not also hold a British or Irish passport) living in the Republic of Ireland will still be able to continue working in Northern Ireland as a frontier worker.
From 1 January 2021, free movement of people will end. Employers in both Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK should take measures to reduce the risk of labour shortages, such as ensuring that employees from other EU member states are aware of, and encouraged to apply for the Scheme as referred to above. Employers should take steps to prepare for the post Brexit immigration system including: obtaining a UK Sponsor Licence; considering minimum salary requirements; and, taking advice on temporary transitional immigration schemes which may assist.
With regard to social security and pensions, the status quo is maintained until the end of the transition period and person benefiting from existing EU social security coordination prior to the end of the transition period can continue to do so afterwards. The position for people moving between the UK and the EU after the end of the transition period remains unclear though. It is welcome however that the Political Declaration (should its aspirations come into force) states that the UK and the EU will consider social security coordination in the context of the future relationship.