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The case of Prefeta v. UK

This month,  the Court of Justice of the European Union upheld the decision of the Home Office in the case of Prefeta v. UK. This is a case concerning the former Workers Registration scheme which applied to members of the  ‘A8’ countries. This decision is said to have caused some controversy.

What was the Workers Registration Scheme:

This was a scheme that was introduced in 2004 and was brought to an end in 2011. It was introduced to allow nationals of the 8 countries which joined the EU in 2004 to work in the UK. The scheme was then brought to an end in 2011. Members of the ‘A8’ countries, have since been permitted to work in the UK and enjoy the same rights as EU members.

The case of Prefeta v. UK:

There were some unclear areas of the Workers Registration Scheme whilst it was enforced. The case of Prefeta v. UK was regarding the refusal of grant to Mr. Preferta on income related Employment and Support Allowance.

Mr Prefeta is a Polish national who was living and working in the United Kingdom during the transitional period of when Poland was entering into the EU (known as the accession period). He was required by law under domestic transitional provisions made under the Accession Treaty to register his employment.

Mr Prefeta was injured at worked and as a result he became unemployed. He applied for welfare and believed he would have been entitled to receive benefits if he could show that he had been a “worker” within the meaning of EU law. The issue was that only 2 months of the 12 months he worked in the UK was registered employment. The Home office took the opinion that the time spent working  was in breach of the registration scheme will not count towards the permanent residence.

As a result, he was refused welfare support on the basis that he had never been a “worker” because he had not registered. It was thus found that the work he had undertaken had not been lawful.

What is the impact of this?

This month,  the Court of Justice of the European Union upheld the UK Home Offices approach to the Scheme. This decision supports and emphasises the Home Office view that any time spent working  which is in breach of the registration scheme,  will not add to time spent towards permanent residence. This also means that the if the Home Office revokes of the British passports of the children of certain ‘A8’ citizens for this reason, it will be legally correct.

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