Hiring update: How will Brexit affect employment?

Rebecca Holman

February 05 2021

As a result of Brexit, free movement of individuals between the United Kingdom and the countries of the European Union has ended.

This impacts employment in many ways, one of which is the hiring of new employees.

Indefinite leave and eligibility

Individuals residing in the UK on or before December 31st, 2020 can apply for indefinite leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). This allows them to continue to live and work in the UK beyond June 30th, 2021.  

Any EU or non-EU citizen arriving within the UK from January 1st, 2021 won’t be eligible to apply for the EUSS. However, if you wish to hire one of these individuals, they will need to be sponsored under the new immigration points-based system.

Right to work in the UK

Up to June 30th, 2021, those employing EU citizens will be able to rely on the following information to confirm their right to work in the UK:

  • EEA or Swiss Passport
  • National ID Card

You cannot force EU citizens to show their EUSS status until after June 30th, 2021. From July 1st, 2021, EEA or Swiss passports alone will no longer be accepted as evidence of a permanent right to work in the UK.

Instead, you will need to see proof of immigration status from either:

  • EU Settlement Scheme
  • New points-based immigration system

Updating employment contracts

When hiring, it's important to discover whether prospective employees arrived in the UK before or after December 31st, 2020. This will clarify their eligibility for EUSS or whether they must be hired under the points-based immigration system.

It’s advised that you give your contracts of employment a robust review. For example, you may look to add:

  • A warranty that the employee has the right to work in the UK without any additional approvals.
  • A clause that allows you to periodically and without the employee’s consent, request documentary evidence from the employee to provide their nationality or that they have the required permission or leave to enter and remain in the UK (and to confirm the date any leave expires).
  • A clause that obliges the employee to notify you of any change to their immigration status or any circumstances which may affect their immigration status or right to work in the UK.
  • A clause that obliges the employee to notify you of any change to their address.


It’s crucial that employers ensure their actions are not at risk of being discriminatory. Don’t assume people are not a UK or Irish citizen. Check and treat all employees in the same way to avoid discrimination claims.

Need our help?

For advice on all your employment-related Brexit questions, speak to a HR expert now on 0800 917 0771.

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