Worker Rights After Brexit for EU Citizens that live and work in the UK


With Brexit looming in the not too distant future we felt that it was important for EU citizens who are currently living and working, or looking for work, within the UK to be aware of what will happen to their rights when/if the UK leaves the EU. Within this post we clarify what would happen to EU citizens in the UK in some of the main working and living situations.

To be covered by the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, EU citizens must be residing in the UK on the date that the UK withdraws from the EU completely. They must be working or have sufficient financial resources or sickness insurance. Any EU citizens meeting these criteria are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement in accordance with EU law on free movement of EU citizens.

EU citizens who live in the UK and have acquired a permanent residence document will have to apply for a new permanent status called ‘Settled Status’ in order to stay after the UK withdraws from the EU. This should be a very light administrative procedure where the EU citizen will have to present an ID, declare any criminal convictions and show that they will continue to reside in the UK. The new UK residence document will be issued free of charge in this instance.

EU citizens who are in the UK looking for a job at the agreed Brexit date will be allowed to stay for six months after their initial arrival date (potentially slightly longer if they are currently being considered for a job). Once these six months have passed, the job seeker will have to leave unless they have found a job or have sufficient financial resources to support themselves.

Any EU citizens who have been residing in the UK for less than five years by the date that the UK withdraws from the EU will have to apply for ‘Pre-Settled Status’. This will allow them to remain in the UK until they have been there for more than five years, at which point they can apply for ‘Settled Status’.

Key Definitions

Settled Status – This is a status for EU citizens who have lived in the UK for five years by the date that the UK completely withdraws from the EU. This status allows the EU citizen to remain in the UK and continue to work and access benefits and services as they do currently. The government website is a useful resource to learn more about status’.

Pre-Settled Status – This is a status for EU citizens who have lived in the UK for less than five years by the date that the UK completely withdraws from the EU. They can continue to live in the UK until they reach the five year, then apply to change their ‘Pre-Settled Status’ to ‘Settled Status’ for no fee. This status allows the EU citizen to remain in the UK and continue to work and access benefits and services as they do currently. The government website is a useful resource to learn more about status’.

This article is intended to be an informative summary of the topic covered and should not be viewed as a source of advice. For definitive information please visit the Government website.

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