Industry warned as post-Brexit settlement deadline looms *H&H Plus*

  • Those going through the process have told H&H of the complicated nature of the requirements, and urged others not to leave it too late. H&H finds out what the deadline means for the equestrian industry

    THE next major Brexit deadline that will affect all corners of the equestrian industry is rapidly approaching.

    The deadline for EU nationals who were living in the UK before 31 December 2020 to apply for settled or pre-settled status is 30 June – and those working in the equestrian world are urged not to leave it to the last minute.

    Freelance equestrian journalist Tilly Berendt, who has a German passport and has legally lived in the UK for “20 of her 30 years” told H&H the bureaucracy and level of proof required took her “by surprise”.

    “I think of myself as being quite literate when it comes to Government forms and legislation – I feel very English, but the process is a lengthy and not a wholly straightforward one,” she said, adding that she felt a weight of “confusion and a bit of fear that I was about to be sent out of the country I’ve made my life and my career in”.

    She has been required by the Home Office to provide proof in the form of specific documents (such as bank statements) that she was legally living in the UK on certain dates – some of which were years ago – to fill in any gaps in their records.

    She said the process varies depending on a person’s individual circumstances, but urged anyone who has not yet started to make it a priority.

    “We’ve got just over a month now, it can be done in that time, and I would hate for anyone to think it is a bit of ordinary paperwork they can sit down and do in an hour,” she said.

    There are concerns about what this could mean for individuals in parts of an industry that historically does not have the best record of compliance.

    EU citizens granted settled or pre-settled status have the right to continue living and working in the UK. But the rules regarding EU nationals wishing to now travel to work in the UK – and visa versa – changed from 1 January. It is not impossible, but there are new hoops to jump through.

    Grooms, farriers and veterinary nurses are among the jobs included on the skilled worker visa list, which is positive, but this is only part of the process. The employer must be Home Office-approved and the minimum acceptable wage is the highest of the three options: £25,600/year, £10.10/hour or the “going rate” for the type of work.

    The UK is also a major employer of European vets, whose job is listed on the shortage occupation list, meaning the minimum income is set at 80% of the going rate (£26,000/year, £12.82/hour).

    A 2017 report by the Institute for Employment Studies for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) stated there were around 6,430 European graduates registered to work in the UK at the time, with some 5,000 already practising.

    Although the way Brexit – and the pandemic – has affected migration of vets to the UK remains to be seen, the RCVS and industry are keeping watch on the situation.

    British Grooms Association director Lucy Katan told H&H the subject again highlights the importance of UK equestrian businesses complying with employment law, “which is not a choice”.

    She also urged anyone who has not yet applied for settled or pre-settled status to do so, and looking ahead to recruiting in a post-Brexit world, called on employers to take the opportunity to make their workplaces attractive places to work.

    “Offer a good employment situation that is legal, fair and adheres to good employment practices and then you will attract and retain the best workforce,” she added.

    To apply for settled status, visit the Government website. Independent support and information can be found at Settled.

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