The EU-UK Trade agreement was ratified on 30 December 2020, at the very close of the UK’s transition period out of the EU.
The agreement covers all major areas relevant to the international relationship between the UK and the EU. The agreement is designed to ensure a continued smooth relationship between the UK and the EU, as trading partners, with a focus on regulating areas such as fishing, agriculture, aviation, and transport. The agreement also covers how dispute resolution will be dealt with in future and confirms new restrictions on intelligence and information-sharing between the UK and EU security agencies.
There have been numerous debates and discussions on the impact of Brexit on UK employment laws. The debate has raised concerns about a possible future misuse of power when the UK government ceases to be bound by EU rules and regulations. These common rules have substantially protected the rights of UK workers for many years and there is concern they will be eroded under new post-Brexit legislation.
Historically, the UK was required to ensure that their laws were compatible with the EU’s rules and regulations. However, moving forwards the country still will need to be acutely aware of how any future changes to the law might affect their relationship with the EU.
The withdrawal agreement protected against any radical change in the treatment of EEA nationals already living in the UK by Britain’s EU departure date. However, the EU-UK trade agreement has no provision for EU nationals to continue to exercise free movement rights after the end of the transition period and EU nationals will be subject to the UK’s immigration laws.
This is a very crucial period for HR teams and employers hiring in the new post-Brexit era, but let’s start with the employees you have. Many employers have been confused as to how they can retain their existing EEA employees. Firstly, check their current status and the Right to Work documents you have on file. If the candidate needs to apply under the pre-settled / settled status scheme (i.e. has no status document or has a residence document issued under the EEA regulations) make sure an application is made before the 30 June 2021 deadline – you cannot employ any EEA national beyond this date without having made a satisfactory right to work check.
EEA nationals can no longer be hired from overseas without a visa; sponsorship may be required if they do not qualify for a visa that allows work without restriction. As an employer, you will need to be ready to apply for a sponsor licence if you do not already have one, in order to employ EEA staff from abroad. Any job offer must meet the skill level and salary requirements for sponsorship.