Practices are keen to offer reassurance to EU staff on employment rights, but face continuing uncertainty until the UK government announces its position.
Practice leaders are doing all they can to support and reassure their EU staff since the EU referendum. While their future residency and employment status is yet to be negotiated, what practical help can practices offer?
As a large practice of around 150 design and technical staff, Pollard Thomas Edwards (PTEA) response to the unexpected vote for Brexit was to call a staff-wide meeting, offering to support staff and to answer all their questions as best they could.
They then arranged for a specialist immigration lawyer to visit the practice to offer free consultations to staff, an offer taken up by around 40 staff members over two days.
‘We know there are still a lot of unknowns, but we wanted to show people that we are interested in helping them and retaining them. Some people just needed to better understand their status now, to understand their current visa and employment status,’ says practice manager Sean Keyes.
PTEA’s initial consultation helped people understand the residency and visa extension processes and prompted some staff members to take the decision there and then to apply for full citizenship.
EU workers who have been in the UK for five or more years can apply for confirmation of permanent residency status. After having held permanent residency for a year they become eligible to apply for British citizenship if they wish. It is advisable to check their country of origin’s policy on dual citizenship before embarking on the process.
PTEA’s legal adviser explained that EU staff who have lived in the UK for less than five years may consider applying for an EU registration card. While this card does not confer any additional rights or benefits, it serves to establish the date from which an EU citizen is recognised as having been in the UK. Establishing this date now might prove advantageous under some future visa regime for EU nationals.
At PTEA, Keyes recounts that their consultations prompted people to look at their current circumstances and to think more seriously about whether they would like to apply for residency. The practice has promised to do more and could repeat the exercise as Brexit negotiations make things clearer, he says.
How can the RIBA help you?
Chartered practices have access to Croner, a legal services firm that can offer specialist HR and employment law advice, through the Members’ Area of the RIBA website.
Individual chartered and associate members of the RIBA with concerns over their future residency and employment status can take advantage of a free consultation by phone of up to 15 minutes with one of the RIBA’s specialist legal advisers, including on HR issues.
Thanks to Sean Keyes, practice manager, Pollard Thomas Edwards.
Text by Neal Morris, © RIBA.
Posted on Thursday 6th April 2017