Changes to employing Bulgarian and Romanian workers

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The transitional controls on free movement adopted by the UK when Bulgaria and Romania joined the European Union in 2007 will end on 1 January 2014.

As of this date, Bulgarian and Romanian nationals will be in the same category as nationals of all other member states – except for Croatia which will be subject to transitional controls until 2020.

This will entitle Bulgarian and Romanian nationals to have the right to live and work in the UK without applying for prior work permission.

From 1 January 2014, a Bulgarian or Romanian national should be able to:

  • accept offers of work
  • work as employee and/or in self-employment
  • set up a business
  • manage a company
  • set up a local branch of a company

They may also be able to carry out the above types of work whilst studying in the UK.

In terms of businesses that are considering employing a national from Bulgaria or Romania - it may be cost-effective and/or time-efficient to postpone employing the individual until 1 January 2014.

In the past, we have come across numerous employers that have been unsure whether a national of Bulgaria or Romanian was genuinely a self-employed person or whether they were attempting to claim exemption from the need to obtain a work permit and an accession card.

With the work restrictions being lifted from 1 January 2014 – you may want to have guidance on whether to classify an individual as an employee or self-employed.

As of 28 October 2013, the UKBA have published a new version of their 'full guide for employers on preventing illegal working in the UK'. This can be found on the UKBA website here.