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Restrictions on employing Croatian workers lifted

When Croatia joined the EU on 1 July 2013, the UK and other member states were able to restrict Croatian nationals from accessing their labour markets for a maximum of seven years.

The UK is one of a few EU countries which applied such measures. This has meant that Croatians have been able to move and reside freely in the UK, but that their ability to work in the UK is more limited. As such, a Croatian worker needs to obtain a permission document before having the right to work in the UK.

In a written statement to Parliament, the Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes, has announced that the current worker registration requirements for Croatian workers will end on 30 June 2018. This decision means that Croatian nationals will have the same rights in the UK as other EU nationals and will be subject to the same right to work checks.

According to the Office for National Statistics, net migration of EU citizens has fallen in the last year by 75,000. Since joining the EU in 2013, estimates suggest there are below 10,000 Croatians that have moved to the UK and so a sudden influx into the UK labour market appears unlikely.

Going forward

Right to work checks will continue to apply to Croatian workers in order to prevent illegal working and ensure permission to work continues.

For existing employees who are Croatian nationals, their right to work should have been verified using their permission document which is most commonly, a purple registration certificate.

For prospective employees who are Croatian nationals, their Croatian passport or identity card will be sufficient to establish their right to work in the UK. This brings the right to work check for Croatian nationals in line with that for other EU nationals.

In order to obtain the statutory excuse which would mean that a civil penalty would not be issued in the event of an organisation employing an illegal worker, the right to work check must be carried out correctly. To do this, the following three stages must be carried out:

  • Obtain the prospective employee’s original ID documents, in this case their original passport or identity card;
  • Check the validity of the documents in the presence of the holder; and
  • Copy the document and record the date on which the right to work check was undertaken. Retain a legible copy in a format which cannot be manually altered and retain these for the duration of the employment and for a further two years after.

For further guidance on employing Croatian nationals or for assistance generally with right to work checks within your organisation, please contact a member of the immigration team.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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