While we await news of a negotiated UK withdrawal from the European Union, there is a palpable degree of concern and legal uncertainty about what possible consequences a hard Brexit may have on Spanish companies with contracted British employees.
The most immediate consequence is the end to the freedom of movement for British workers in Spain. Therefore, as of March 29, companies that have British workers on staff must verify the legal residence and right to work of their employees vis-à-vis an eventual inspection.
Preparation for a possible inspection
If their papers are not in order, companies could face sanctions for hiring undocumented workers (in addition to the possible repercussions of work-related accidents and the payment of contributions in arrears).
However, in an effort to mitigate the adverse effects that a non-negotiated exit would have on the rights of British workers in Spain, the Spanish government has drawn up a Contingency Plan to offer guarantees regarding the collection of pensions and social security benefits.
Regardless of the ultimate withdrawal framework (a hard or soft Brexit), it is essential that companies with British employees ensure these workers have an EU Registration Certificate dated prior to March 29.
What will happen to Spanish workers in the UK?
This situation of legal uncertainty also affects those Spanish citizens who currently work (and intend to continue doing so) in the United Kingdom. Under the withdrawal agreement drafted by the European Commission on November 14, they will be registered a new system, known as the “EU Settlement Scheme,” which will be operational from March 30, 2019 through June 30, 2021.
It is worth noting that Spanish citizens residing in the United Kingdom on a continual basis for 5+ years will obtain 'settled status,' while those living in the UK for fewer than five years will obtain 'pre-settled status.'
For more information about the repercussions of Brexit and how they may affect you, please contact our team of lawyers specializing in mobility and immigration.