The University of Salford has committed to help its European employees with the £65 fee for applying to stay in the UK after Brexit.
Currently, EU citizens are free to live and work in the UK without special requirements. After Brexit, they will have to apply for a special status, called the “settled status”, to have the right to remain in the UK.
Applications to the EU Citizen Settlement Scheme cost £65, and employers do not have to pay for it. But some, such as the University of Salford, have decided to help.
The news came as a pleasant surprise to many of the University’s EU citizen staff members.
Dulcidio Coelho, technical director at the University’s Thinklab, said: “I was not expecting this from the University, and its commitment to pay the fee gives me a sense of appreciation for the work developed by all EU employees.
“I think it should be a compulsory thing for employers to do. When we applied for a position, it was in the understating that the UK was a member of the EU, not a third party, otherwise I wouldn’t have come in the first place.”
Paul Maggs, branch secretary of UCU Salford, said: “It is absolutely good news for everyone at Salford, and indicative too of the new mood of co-operation and collaboration between the employer and the Unions.”
Nikola Bartošová, editor at the University’s Quays News TV, who is from the Czech Republic and has lived in the UK for more than six years, said: “I would have applied anyway, even if I wasn’t working at the University, and I would have paid for it, but I think it’s a really nice gesture that the University helps you out financially and partially pays for it.”
Nikola was granted settled status three days after she applied online.
It is estimated around 140 members of University of Salford staff are EU citizens eligible for settled status.
Cristina Tegolo, Greater Manchester coordinator for The3million, a lobbying group for the guarantee of EU citizens’ rights in the UK and UK citizens rights in Europe after Brexit, said: “The3million supports the Unison campaign for employers to cover settled status fees.
“However, we believe that there is a strong argument for making this scheme free of charge – registration is obligatory and EU citizens should not be charged to stay in their own homes.
“We are pleased to know that some large employers are offering some support but all EU citizens should receive help and the same assurances. The real issue is to reach out to the most vulnerable and at risk groups.”
The EU Citizen Settlement Scheme will be rolled out nationally in March 2019, but some employers, including the University of Salford, are now running a voluntary pilot scheme which allows the government to test the system ahead of the launch.