18.06.2021 Labour law

Brexit – conditions of access to the Polish labour market for British employees

As a result of the UK’s leaving of the European Union, the conditions of employing Britons have changed. From the end of the transition period – namely from 1 January 2021 – they are subject to the provisions applicable to all foreigners from outside of the EU. However, there is an exception.

The conditions of access to the labour market of EU member states for British citizens after Brexit are set out in the Agreement dated 24 January 2000 on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, commonly known as the Withdrawal Agreement. In the light of its provisions the rules of legal employment of Britons were differentiated taking into account maintained continuity of use of the right of residence before the end of the transition period and after its lapse. Briefly speaking, it is about whether or not they legally resided in Poland before 31 December 2020 and if they stayed in Poland after that date.

Britons who resided in Poland before Brexit

British citizens who resided in Poland before 31 December 2020 and used the right of residence also after that date retain their right of residence. Such individuals were called beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement. Retaining the right of residence additionally involves such individuals being subject to the freedom of movement for workers applicable to citizens of the EU member states, which is synonymous with the lack of the obligation to have a work permit.

One has to remember that despite retaining the right of residence in Poland the beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement should exchange the documents confirming their residence status, since 31 December 2021 will be the expiry date of EU citizen permanent residence cards and EU citizen residence registration certificates which have been used by the citizens of Great Britain so far.

Britons without the right to reside in Poland

British citizens who did not have the right to reside in Poland before 31 December 2020 are treated as citizens of a third country. Pursuant to the regulation 2018/1806 Britons may travel without visas in the Schengen area on the same terms as citizens of the USA or Japan. Nonetheless, no departures have been provided for in respect of legalisation of employment – an employer who plans to employ a British citizen will be obliged to obtain a work permit for them.

According to the provisions governing legalisation of employment of citizens of third countries in Poland, before obtaining a work permit for a British citizen the employer will have to conduct a labour market test. This means the need to obtain a confirmation from the district governor that work to be entrusted to the Briton cannot be performed by an unemployed citizen of Poland or another EU member state registered in the District Labour Office.

A Polish employer who wishes to employ a worker from Great Britain should take into account duration of the process of obtaining a work permit for a citizen of a third country – it takes a few months to complete all formalities, so it is impossible to employ such a person immediately. For this reason, the process of employment of a British citizen should be started in sufficient advance.

Learn more: Remote working to be regulated in the Labour Code – what will change?

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