Croatia Joins The EU

After a decade of negotiation, the European Union has finally welcomed its latest member, Croatia.

On 1st July 2013, Croatia became the 28th member of the EU. As a member-State, Croatia is now set to enjoy the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the EU Treaty, including the right of every citizen to work in any member-State country.

In response to concerns over labour migration, the Coalition government has opted to impose temporary work restrictions which are due to expire on 30 June 2018 (subject to a further extension of 2 years). These restrictions mean that every Croatian national who intends to work in the UK will need an accession worker authorisation document (permission to work), unless they fall within a listed exemption.

The accession worker authorisation document will be endorsed with a condition restricting the Croatian national's employment to a particular employer and the category of their employment. This means that Croatian nationals will not have the same freedom to work in the UK as other EU nationals until the restrictions are lifted.

For most Croatians, having a Croatian passport alone will not be enough to secure employment. They will need to be issued with a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for employment under Tiers 2 and 5 of the Points-Based System, which is required as part of their application for an accession worker document. Employers must therefore have a Sponsor Licence to employ Croatian Nationals after 1st July 2013.

If a Croatian national holds the accession worker authorisation document for 12 months without interruption, they may then apply for an EEA registration certificate which allows them unconditional access to the UK labour market.

Employers must fully understand the nature and extent of their duty to carry out checks when recruiting staff. Failure to carry out the correct checks on right to work documents may result in the illegal employment of a Croatian national and could leave the employer exposed to civil penalties.

How to avoid penalties

Before the employee starts work, you must check whether the Croatian national has either of the following:

(a) Unrestricted access to the UK labour market as they fall within an exemption from work authorisation (for example, they have indefinite leave to remain in the UK, or are a family member of an EEA national); or

(b) A valid worker authorisation document which allows them to undertake the type of work in question without restriction.  

Only accept original documents and keep a dated copy in a format which cannot be altered.

If you would like further advice Ashfords' leading immigration specialists, will be happy to assist you.

Kirsty Cooke
T: +44 (0)1392 333908

Tanya Gruneberg
T: +44 (0)20 7544 2430
M: +44 (0)7850 504115