Sir Jeremy Heywood has issued an all-staff email across government seeking to reassure civil servants from EU countries that they will be able to continue to work in Whitehall after the UK leaves the bloc in 2019.
In an email seen by Civil Service World, the cabinet secretary and head of the civil service acknowledged that “many colleagues have been concerned about the status of European Union citizens working in the civil service after the UK leaves the EU”.
He said that prime minister Theresa May had made clear in her speech on the Brexit negotiations in Florence in September that the government valued the contribution EU citizens made to the UK, and the agreement reached last week at the end of the first stage of Brexit talks would “ensure those living here before the UK’s withdrawal can stay and carry on living in the UK as before”.
“This was a clear priority for the prime minister, and I hope this agreement will now give you certainty about your future rights."
It was not the government’s intention for the tightening of nationality rules governing work in the civil service to restrict the ability of European citizens to work in Whitehall, he added.
Current Whitehall rules mean only citizens from the UK, the Republic of Ireland, the countries that make up the Commonwealth and the European Economic Area (EU member states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and from Switzerland and Turkey are “generally eligible” to work in government.
Heywood said the government was committed to maintaining the eligibility terms for EU citizens.
“Let me make clear – the government’s policy intention is that post-Brexit the civil service nationality rules should continue to enable EU citizens to be employed in the civil service. EU citizens who have chosen to make their lives in this country can play a full role in society and in the work of the civil service.”