UNISON is urging employers to pay the £65 fee for their staff who are citizens of other EU countries and apply for ‘settled status’ to stay in the UK after Brexit on 29 March.
The union has produced a model letter for relevant branches to edit and use when writing to their employers on the issue, together with new guidance on the issue and process, aimed at both branches and individual EU-citizen members.
Some employers have already said they will pay the fee for their employees, including the Scottish government, which has said it will pay the fee for any public sector worker in that country.
The UK government is rolling out a pilot on the settled status registration scheme this month, based on employment. On 15 November, staff in higher education across the UK become the latest group of EU citizens able to apply under the pilot.
Applicants will also need a valid passport or, if they are the non-EU family members of EU citizens, a biometric residence card.
But because the pilot is based around employment and specific employers, UNISON is asking branches to ask those employers to pay the fee and raise the issue through their collective bargaining machinery, including formally writing to them.
The union has published branch guidance explaining the settled status pilot, how branches can negotiate with employers to request that they pay the fee and work jointly with employers to help EU members prepare for their application.
The full EU settlement scheme will be open to all eligible applicants, including non-working family members.
The pilot is being started in stages during November.
EU citizens working for 15 NHS trusts in north-west England, including three in Greater Manchester, as well as three north-west universities have been able to apply since 1 November.
On 15 November, this is extended to workers across higher education, as well as some vulnerable individuals being supported by five local authorities and seven civil society organisations in England.
EU citizens working in the health and social care sectors across the UK will be eligible to apply as part of the pilot from 29 November.
There is also a new leaflet for members, explaining the pilot and the UNISON campaign asking employers to pay the fee. Branches can order the leaflet via the online catalogue, quoting stock no 4049.