Full treaty rights to be granted as Worker Registration Scheme closes

In an announcement made on 10 March 2011, the Immigration Minister Damian Green has confirmed that the Worker Registration Scheme will be closed on 30 April 2011.

The Worker Registration Scheme was introduced in 2004 as a transitional arrangement and affected nationals of the countries - known as the ‘A8’ countries - which joined the EU then. These countries are:

  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia

The closure of the scheme means that nationals from these countries will be able to work and access unemployment benefits with the same rights as EU nationals (except those from Bulgaria and Romania).

Under the terms of the Treaty of Accession EU member states can only limit access to their domestic labour markets for seven years. As such the UK, along with Germany and Austria, are required to lift any restrictions made on nationals of these ‘new’ member states by 30 April 2011.

The scheme was introduced to allow the government to monitor how nationals from these countries entered the labour market, the type of work they performed and their impact on the economy. From its launch in May 2004 to the end of 2010 1.1 million people had registered on the scheme.

The Immigration Minister also used his statement to stress that the Government intends to apply similar transitional arrangements to nationals of any country joining the EU in the future, as part of its continuing ‘commitment to reducing net migration to the tens of thousands’.

The UKBA will be publishing guidance on the transitional responsibilities of workers and employers on its website. It is recommended that workers from the relevant member states   check these documents to confirm their responsibilities in relation to closure of the scheme.

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