Building your business future with EU workers

Building your business future with EU workers

GETTING ready in good time for the end of UK transition makes total business sense when you employ workers from the European Union.

Europeans are an essential part of a successful UK economy. But if you’re not prepared for the new regulations, your company could run into problems.

Take the construction industry, for example. There are roughly 165,000 EU citizens currently working on building sites across the UK. They account for 7 per cent of labourers and tradespeople, the Office for National Statistics says.

But if building firms want to keep these workers when the UK transition period ends on 31 December and we exit the EU single market and customs union, they need to put in the groundwork now.

If you run a building business, you should encourage your current EU staff to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme at the Government website, gov.uk.

EU citizens and their families living in the UK by 31 December 2020 have until 30 June 2021 to apply. Irish citizens and those who already have indefinite leave to remain do not need to apply but they can if they want to.

Successfully applying to this scheme gives workers settled or pre-settled status, depending on how long they’ve lived here. This means they keep their right to work in the UK and retain access to the same benefits they have now.

It’s the responsibility of the individual worker to apply but a helpful reminder from the boss will help. An employer toolkit on the Government website provides everything bosses need – from a digital presentation you can share with employees to posters you can put up and template letter to send out.

As the building industry bounces back from the Covid-19 crisis, construction firms will be looking for the skilled workers they need to prosper, from brickies to chippies, plumbers to plasterers.

If this means making new hires from outside the UK, you need to be aware of the new immigration system for those arriving in the UK from 1 January 2021 onwards.

To be eligible to come to the UK to work, EU citizens, along with those from the rest of the world, will need to meet new job, salary and language requirements. This does not apply to Irish citizens. You can find out about the new requirements at gov.uk.

Construction companies will need to become licensed sponsors to recruit eligible skilled workers from outside the UK.

There are four simple steps your firm must take to become an approved sponsor:

  1. Check your business is eligible at gov.uk.
  2. Choose the correct type of licence. This will depend on what type of worker you want to sponsor.
  3. Decide who will manage sponsorship within your business.
  4. Apply online and pay the fee.

Find out more about sponsorship here.

There are a few other steps to take before the end of the transition period on 31 December.

These include understanding the new rules on moving goods between Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the EU.

For more information, visit gov.uk/transition.

Travelling to Europe for business

Going over to Europe is part of the job for many Brits.

Around 200,000 UK businesses trade with the EU, and for staff in globalised industries such as chemicals, or advanced manufacturing travel for work is a way of life.

As the Brexit transition period ends, and you’re intending to travel to Europe on business, make sure you have the following:

  • Passport – you may need to renew this. Check if your passport meets the new passport validity rules.
  • Insurance – you will need travel insurance that meets your needs, including healthcare. Your European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) may no longer be valid.
  • Driving documents – if you plan to drive, you may need extra documents and an international driving permit in certain countries.
  • Proof of return – you may need to show a return ticket to prove your stay is temporary.

Travelling for business requires a few more checks.

  • Entry requirements – each country may require additional permits or visas to conduct business there.
  • If you provide services to EU-based clients, you should check if the relevant authorities in the EU will recognise your professional qualifications.
  • Earning money – if you’re earning in the EU, you need to tell HMRC and check whether you need to pay social security contributions in the country you’re working in.

For firms in the chemicals or manufacturing sectors, there are a few other recommended preparations as we head towards January. Chemicals companies should check UK and EU chemical regulations to manufacture, import or export chemicals. Similarly, manufacturers should identify changes for manufactured goods, such as new approvals or registration requirements.

Companies should get ready to make customs declarations, and check the new rules on importing and exporting goods between Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the EU. New rules regarding moving goods into, out of or through Northern Ireland should also be checked. Visit gov.uk/northern-ireland-trade for more information.

Visit www.gov.uk/transition for more.

Whether you’re employing EU citizens in the UK or travelling to the EU for work, act now to make sure that 1 January 2021 will be a fresh start, heralding a bright future for your business.

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