Right to Work checks for EU Citizens from 1 January 2021


From 1 January 2021 free movement between the UK and European Union will stop. European Economic Area and Swiss nationals who plan to come into the United Kingdom to undertake work after 31 December 2020 will be required to apply for a visa under new immigration laws. Those who came into the UK before 1 January 2021 will need to apply for settled or pre-settled status before the 30 June 2021.


  • The noticeable changes the above brings for Employers and Recruitment Agencies in terms of required Right to Work checks are as detailed below, based on the time of year? In the period between 1 January 2021 to 30 June 2021 before employing EU Nationals employers must carry out right to work checks in the same way they did before Brexit. For EU Nationals they need to check either their national identity cards or passports. During that period employers cannot demand evidence of settled or pre-settled status. According to Government guidance this might be considered, as a case of discrimination.


  • Post the 30 June 2021 for EEA and Swiss Nationals, employers will be required to obtain evidence of settled or pre-settled status or passport / National ID card along with a working visa before they can onboard a new candidate. There will be no requirement to conduct new right to work checks (i.e. checking settled or pre-settled status) for existing staff who were employed before 1 January 2021, as long as a compliant process was carried out before their engagement.


The question being raised by many employers is, if taking into account the fact that EU Nationals entering the UK after 31 December 2020 to work must have a working visa to be able to undertake any work. Then the confusion starts, as a compliant Right to Work check should be carried out by employers as they did prior to Brexit, up till 30 June 2021 (without the right to insist of seeing evidence of settled and pre-settled status)..!

How are employers supposed to know who has entered the UK pre or post 31 December 2020?

This question is still to be clarified by the Home Office and we expect the guidance to be released in December.