This week saw Article 50 triggered – the legislation that opens a two-year negotiating process before Britain leaves the European Union. In other words, Brexit has begun.
It’s a worrying time for many people who live and work in the UK, having moved from other EU countries. More than 2.2m EU nationals currently live and work in the UK, many in vital fields such as healthcare, education, manufacturing, and construction.
Earlier this month, the House of Lords attempted to force the government to secure the rights of EU nationals in the UK – but it was defeated in the Commons. However, in her speech after triggering Article 50, Prime Minister Theresa May affirmed her commitment to EU nationals in the UK, talking about her ‘fierce determination to get the right deal for every single person in this country’.
With all the back and forth, many EU nationals find themselves in a state of limbo. What will happen to them now that the Brexit starting pistol has been fired? As a leading London recruitment agency, we like to keep abreast of the situation so we can keep you in the know.
Security until March 2019
Britain will officially leave the European Union on 29th March 2019 – and the European Commission has confirmed that all EU laws must apply until this date. This means that any EU citizens currently living in the UK will enjoy the same rights to live and work here as they always have.
The European Parliament has also come forward to confirm it would veto any talks or deals that might remove rights from EU citizens who move to the UK during the negotiation period. They too will enjoy all the same rights to live and work in the UK as the EU citizens who are already here.
Priority in negotiations
Over the coming months, the UK and the EU will see it as a top priority to figure out how EU nationals will be treated post-Brexit. There are also some preliminary signals on how the government will approach this. The government won’t place a cap on the number of EU migrants working in the country after Brexit, reassuring many who worry about being deported or losing their right to work. There is even the chance that free movement will remain enshrined in UK law to allow us to strike a trade deal with the EU – this will all be discussed between the relevant parties at the earliest possible opportunity.
Tips for EU nationals working in the UK
• Remember, employers must still comply with the Equality Act 2010 – if you feel you’re being discriminated against because of your status as an EU worker, make sure it’s reported to the relevant authorities.
• Collect evidence of your residence and employment – these will be useful if you are required to apply for any type of working visa or permanent residence.
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