Heathrow airport to pay for employees' settled status

Heathrow is to offer thousands of its European workers financial help to try to secure their place in the UK after Brexit.

The airport is going to set aside hundreds of thousands of pounds to help European Union workers to apply for settled status, which will enable them to carry on working in the UK after Brexit. This was  in response to employees’ concerns over their future following Brexit. It’s believed that up to 2,600 people who work at the airport could make applications.

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s chief executive, said to Sky news,

We want to give confidence to people who play a valuable role in maintaining Heathrow’s role as a hub airport. We’ve seen a lot of anxiety. People have to make decisions about their families, housing, schooling. This has a big impact on their lives and creates quite a lot of anxiety for them. It’s extraordinarily stressful for them – how can you bring your best self to work every day if you’re worrying about those things?

And yet these are valued parts of our team. They provide a hugely important role for an international business like ours in giving us a range of languages and a range of different cultural insights. We’re probably the most diverse place on the planet and we need to have an international team here. We’re the UK’s biggest port and we’re expanding and, as we leave the EU, ironically we now really need those international people working here to make a success of that. So we think a responsible employer like Heathrow needs to take a stand, not just to protect our own team but to encourage other companies to do the same thing.

Heathrow says its workers are dealing with an extraordinarily stressful situation with Brexit Heathrow says it is also guaranteeing 30-day payment terms through Brexit in order to soothe the nerves of small and medium-sized companies in its supply chain. The airport giant is also offering the London living wage, and has decided to stop using zero-hours contracts.

Mr Holland-Kaye continued,

Heathrow is an international business and we need a workforce that reflects this It is critical for us to have diverse, happy and valued colleagues. In the past 12 months alone, our people have welcomed 80 million passengers through Britain’s front door and we want to ensure that we retain and attract the best for life post-Brexit.

It costs £65 for an EU national to apply for settled status. Applications are currently open for EU nationals in select positions, including the NHS. Those who have lived in the UK continuously for five years will qualify for the new immigration status, while those who have not been a UK resident for that period will receive pre-settled status, which will then be translated to settled status once they reach five years’ residency. They will be issued with digital proof of the status and will likely be asked by employers to demonstrate it when the UK leaves the EU in 2021.

In November immigration minister Caroline Nokes revealed that around 1,000 EU citizens registered under the scheme so far. Earlier this year the Home Office published a settlement scheme toolkit – which included posters, leaflets, how-to guides and key dates to be aware of – to help employers of EU citizens assist them with their applications.

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