The government has dismissed a request from trade union Prospect calling on the government to set an example to employers by paying for the settled status for EU nationals it employs in departments and agencies.
As part of the Brexit process, all EU nationals will be required to have applied for – or to have already obtained – settled status by mid-2021 and requests for the status will begin to be processed later this year. However the creation of the scheme appears contingent on a no-deal Brexit being avoided.
Prospect said that if the government met the £65 charge for its civil service and other employees the move would relieve the overall burden faced by staff – in particular on those with family members to additionally register. It added that as the country's largest employer of EU nationals, it was right that the government should take a lead.
But a government spokesperson said Whitehall bosses were not currently minded to cover the expense of applications made by EU staff.
Some public bodies have already agreed, including the Scottish Government and the Building Research Establishment.
Prospect senior deputy general secretary Sue Ferns said the government had a moral duty to help its staff deal with the cost of bureaucracy that most would never have expected to face.
“It is bad enough that people who have come to work in the UK and contribute to our society are now having to go through this complicated and bureaucratic process,” she said. “Asking them to foot the bill just adds insult to injury.”
She said the £65 cost was “less than the average cost of a tank of fuel [and] whilst not prohibitive to employers, will help to relieve the overall cost burden”.
Prospect’s letter to immigration minister Caroline Nokes also called for more information on how settled status proposals might be affected by a no-deal Brexit and how the UK would attract EU nationals after any transition period has finished.
Civil Service World sought responses from both the Cabinet Office, which oversees human-resources issues for the whole civil service, and from the Home Office, which is responsible for the operation of the settled-status scheme.
A government spokesperson said: “The civil service does not intend to pay for the cost of EU Settlement Scheme applications. We recognise the valuable contribution made by EU citizens to the work of the civil service, and we remain committed to providing on-going support to these colleagues.”