Worker Registration Scheme
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The Accession State Worker Registration Scheme was a temporary measure used in the period from 2004 to 2011 by the UK to restrict incoming workers from the eight member states of the European Union in Central Europe and the Baltic region of northern Europe (the "A8 countries"). It attempted to help the UK's government to be able to keep track of the way that the UK labour market was affected by the workers from the A8 countries. The scheme is no longer in operation as the last day on which a new worker in the U.K. was required to register was the 1 April 2011.
Note: In 2007, Bulgaria and Romania became members of the European Union but did not become subject to WRS regulations. Bulgarians and Romanians will still need a work permit in order to work legally in the UK no longer than until 2014 when the maximum extent (7 years) of this temporary measures allowed by their Treaty of Accession to the EU shall be reached.
Registration and benefits
Workers from the above countries were required to register on the WRS scheme within a month of joining a new employer. However, there were no incentives to do this: registration took time and money, immigrants were able to work (illegally) without it, and no immigrant has ever been prosecuted for not having registered on the scheme. Consequently, immigration data from the WRS was indicative at best.
By registering, immigrants were able to claim some basic benefits, such as Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit and Tax Credits. However, the worker must have been employed to be able to claim these benefits. If the worker was able to prove that they had worked legally for at least a 12-month period (without a break in employment of more than 30 days) then they gained the ability to claim social security benefits such as Jobseeker's Allowance.
Workers that were exempt from registering on the scheme included:
- those who were self-employed
- those who were students
- those who were working legally in the UK on the 30th of April 2004 and continued in their employment
- those who were in continuous employment for a period of at least 12 months falling partly or wholly on or after 30th of April 2004
- those who had left to enter on the SAWS scheme before 1 May 2004 and had started working in the UK under the SAWS scheme on or after 1 May 2004
- those who were providing services in the UK on behalf of an employer who is not established in the UK.
On 1 May 2011 the worker registration scheme was abolished. By the time the A8 countries had been in the EU for over seven years and the maximum extent of the temporary measures, which were allowed by the Treaty of Accession to the EU (from 2003), had been reached and therefore since then their nationals enjoy the same rights as those of the older member states. As the scheme only required people to register if they were working for longer than one month the practical abolition of scheme had been done on 1 April 2011.
- Working in the UK 
Extension of Workers Registration Scheme between 2009 - 2011 was unlawful - Upper Tribunal Judgement