22 July 2019

What will a no-deal Brexit mean for employers in the hotel sector?

With Boris Johnson confirming that he would be prepared to leave the EU on 31 October 2019 without concluding a formal withdrawal agreement, now seems like a good time to consider what a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would mean for employers in the UK hotel sector and their European workforce.

Immigration considerations

Currently, EEA and Swiss citizens (EU citizens) have the automatic right to live and work in the UK: following Brexit, this free movement will come to an end.

As we understand it, the following arrangements would apply in the event of no-deal Brexit:

1. EU citizens (and their family members) already living in the UK on the Brexit date will continue to have the right to live and work in the UK, provided they make a successful application under the EU Settlement Scheme (the Scheme) by 31 December 2020.  Depending on how long an individual has been living in the UK when making their application, a further application might be required.  Applications under the Scheme are free

2. EU citizens arriving in the UK after the Brexit date and before the UK’s new immigration system is implemented (expected in January 2021) will be subject to transitional arrangements.  Individuals will be able to enter the UK and work (visa-free) for up to three months.  If they want to stay longer, they will need to apply for European Temporary Leave to Remain (ETLR), details of which have not been announced

3. If an EU citizen: (i) with ETLR wishes to stay in the UK for more than three years; or (ii) arrives in the UK on or after January 2021, they will be subject to the new UK immigration system, again, details of which have not been announced. 

It is important to note that Irish nationals do need any further immigration approvals as they are considered settled in the UK under the Common Travel Area.

Employers should:

• communicate with their existing EU workforce about the Scheme and how to apply, including reminding them that applications need to be made by 31 December 2020 in the event of a no-deal

• think about up-coming recruitment and ensure that proposed recruits who wish to be eligible under the Scheme enter the UK before 31 October 2019

• continue to monitor the immigration position and, in particular, consider the rules of ETLR and the new UK immigration system (once published) to assess the impact they will have on their business and workforce plans.

Business travel to Europe: British citizens will continue to be able to travel to other EEA countries and Switzerland (without a visa) for business trips after the Brexit date, spending up to 90 days in a 180 day period in that country.  However, they will be unable to undertake paid work, so it’s important that employers assess the purpose of travel to determine whether a local working visa might be required. 

Right to work checks: the government has confirmed that UK employers would not be required to carry out new right to work checks on their existing EU employees after a no-deal Brexit. Employers should not take any action until further guidance is issued, to help to avoid any potential discrimination claims.

Employment considerations

In the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, EU employment law as it currently stands will generally be converted into UK law, so no immediate changes are expected.

For further information about the employment and immigration consequences of Brexit (including how employers can support their existing European workforce), please contact Joe Beeston, Senior Associate, Employment.

Joe is a Senior Associate in our Employment team.

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