The law on this page only applies to you if you entered the UK before 1 January 2021, and from 1 July 2021 only you if applied to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021: see further details.

Who is a 'worker' and what counts as 'genuine' work?

Once you start work in the UK as a paid employee you acquire 'worker' status except where your work is not considered to be genuine or is defined as 'marginal'. If you work full-time (other than on a temporary contract) you could establish your worker status in as little as two weeks. If you work part-time, it may take longer and will depend on the facts in your case (e.g. how many hours you work, the rate of pay, regular or irregular pattern, etc.). As a worker you have the right to continue to live in the UK and to access social security benefits and housing.

The law treats unemployed EEA workers, retired workers and EEA jobseekers differently:

To qualify as a worker the work that you do must be:

Although you should not be denied worker status just because your earnings are so low that they need to be supplemented by benefits (e.g. tax credits and/or housing benefit), if you are claiming benefits as a worker or former worker and your earnings are too low to pay national insurance (£242 per week from July 2022), the benefits authority may decide that your work is or was marginal. A number of factors should be considered before deciding that the work that you do is marginal or not effective or genuine. These include:

These factors must be considered as a whole and the absence or presence of one cannot be considered as being conclusive.