Prospect and Bectu have been supporting their EU members by pressurising the government to stop the £65 settled status fee, and indeed it has now been cancelled. But the process for applying for settled status remains complicated and is a clear barrier to EU workers feeling welcome and remaining in the UK. A recent survey of Prospect and Bectu members showed that 66% of non-UK EU nationals have considered leaving the UK and it is barriers such as having to apply for settled status that are driving that.
The legal guide, which is available on Prospect’s and Bectu’s websites and has been sent to all reps, is designed to help EU citizens working in the UK to navigate the sometimes complicated process of applying for settled status. It sets out who has to apply, who is eligible, what to do about family members and dependents and gives clarity on the meaning of certain terms and also what happens in the event of a No Deal Brexit.
Prospect represents 140,000 members in the public and private sectors working as engineers, scientists, managers and specialists – many in areas which are dependent on EU workers such as agriculture and R&D. It is the largest union in the UK representing professional engineers, and has over 30,000 members working for government departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies.
BECTU is the UK’s entertainment union, representing more than 30,000 staff and freelance members in creative industries including broadcasting, cinema, film, digital media, independent production, theatre and the arts. With creative industries relying heavily on international collaboration and free movement of talent and equipment, BECTU members are amongst those set to be most negatively impacted by Brexit.
Sue Ferns, Prospect’s senior deputy general secretary, said:
“This guide provides some much-needed clarity and support for those applying for EU settled status. We will do everything we can to help those EU workers who work in the UK and wish to stay.
“Ever since it was proposed we have campaigned against the £65 settled status fee, but just because it has been scrapped does not mean that is the end of the matter for our members. These are workers who contribute hugely to our economy and bring with them a wealth of expertise and the way they have been treated is abominable.
“It’s shocking that 66% of our EU members have considered leaving – they are vital workers for many sectors of our economy. Hopefully this guide will go some way to reassuring our EU colleagues that they are welcome here in the UK.”
Stephen Cavalier, chief executive of leading trade union law firm Thompsons Solicitors, said:
“The level of uncertainty created by Brexit is appalling.
“All EU nationals already living in the UK deserve to have their rights guaranteed. Instead, the government is insisting on a complex process.
“Thompsons is working with trade unions to do everything we can to ensure EU nationals’ rights are protected, and that they continue to feel welcome in the UK.”
A copy of the guide can be downloaded here.