With less than 30 days for Europeans living in the UK to apply for settled status, construction employers are urged to help their European staff with outstanding applications.

EU nationals have until 30 June to apply for settled status or face becoming illegal immigrants overnight. EU nationals without settled or pre-settled status will be unable to work, open a bank account, access healthcare or rent a home.

There is no legal responsibility for employers to check whether an employee has applied or been granted settled status, but, as the industry is already facing a recruitment crisis, Ian Robinson, Partner at Fragomen, a global immigration firm, is urging employers to help staff and their families apply.

He explained: “Over 5.4 million people have applied for settled status in the past two years, with 53% having been granted settled status and 44% granted pre-settled status, yet there are many Europeans that have yet to apply.

“Employers face a tricky challenge in that there is no legal basis in which they can ask staff if they have applied or obtained settled or pre-settled status. In fact, they potentially face discrimination claims if employers insist staff tell them.

“We would, however, urge employers to talk to all their staff, not just those who are European nationals and offer help and guidance with applications. There is now a degree of urgency to act.”

Staff are eligible for settled or pre-settled status if they or their family members are an EU, EEA or Swiss national and were in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020.

The application takes around 20 minutes via a home office app and website. In most cases, the Home Office can track residency against tax or benefits records.

The application can take up to four weeks to be processed, though it usually only takes a few days. Successful applicants are then awarded a digital status (rather than a stamp in a passport) which will needed when looking for work, renting a property or re-entering the country after a trip abroad.

Robinson adds: “Employers can offer to help staff and their families with applications and, importantly for staff with pre-settled status, monitor the time frame to applying for settled status. Now is the time for employers to act.”