EU nationals and British expats need more support

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Research suggests more than one in three employers are not supporting EU workers with their settled status applications

According to benefits consultancy Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing, employers need to provide more support to workers based in both the UK and the EU.

Its research with senior HR and finance professionals showed that 36.45% of employers provided EU workers based in the UK support regarding their settled status applications, 28.21% offered no support, and 5.77% were unsure if they had or not.

Steve Herbert, head of benefits strategy at Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing, told HR magazine that employers should put themselves in their employees' shoes.

“Employers should be in a position where they’re not just thinking about what is visible to them. You may think you’ve got no EU nationals, and while that may be the case it doesn’t mean they haven’t got a partner that isn’t an EU national. So it’s not always as clear as you might think,” he explained.

Herbert suggested that although there was confusion surrounding whether or not the UK would be leaving the EU, employers should have been doing more to prepare their staff.

“If anyone is getting a pushback or isn’t quite sure what they’re doing about settled status they should be provided some sort of legal advice and support, at the employer's cost," he said.

"The return for the employer for keeping the employee happy and settled has got to vastly outweigh the cost of providing support."

The research also looked at the support being offered to UK workers based overseas – and in particular those in the EU. More than two-thirds (67.66%) of employers claimed to have no UK workers based overseas, but of those that did only 21% had both reviewed policies and communicated with their people regarding the impending changes of Brexit.

Adam Harding, divisional director of international benefits at Howden, said: “What Brexit actually means for international benefits policies will still not be clear until it actually happens, and in the passing of time as new regulations are potentially implemented.

However, we do know that there are already regulations in some current EU locations. For example, the Netherlands mandates locally-purchased health insurance for anyone based there. So will other countries follow suit, or indeed will the UK implement tighter regulation?

“It is important for employers to be aware of the potential repercussions and impact on their business and employees. Not all insurers will be able to cope with UK- and EU -based risks, and neither will all intermediaries in this space. The key is for them to stay on top of this with contingencies being available for all eventualities,” he added.

Around 200 senior HR and finance professionals in London took part in the research at the end of November 2019.

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