What is the right to work check?
All UK employers have the responsibility to prevent the employment of illegal workers. This is done by conducting a right to work check before hiring prospective employees, making sure that their immigration status does not disqualify them from carrying out their intended role. It also includes ongoing checks for workers on temporary visas.
Knowingly employing somebody who cannot legally work in the UK is an offence. This can lead to civil penalties of up to £20,000 per employee if the right to work checks were not undertaken, and even more if companies have knowingly hired those without the right to work in the UK. However, if any employee is found not to have the right to work in the UK, but an employer can show that they have undertaken the right to work checks as required, then employers will have a statutory excuse and no civil penalty will be levied for hiring that worker.
These checks must be carried out by employers themselves and not a third party. However, if there are any uncertainties around the sponsor licence, employers should seek out guidance to ensure these checks are being performed correctly.
If you wish to hire any non-settled or overseas workers, including those from the EU and EEA, you will need to register as a UK licensed sponsor. We can help you with every aspect of your application for your sponsor licence as well as maintaining your ongoing sponsorship duties
How to conduct a right to work check
Right to work checks must also be conducted before an individual is employed after they have obtained their worker visa. If there is a time limit on their visa or immigration status then a follow up should be scheduled shortly before this time comes to an end.
There are two types of right to work checks, a manual document-based check, which is done in person, or an online check.
Right to work documents
The UK government has separated workers into List A and List B. Which list your employee is on determines which documents you need to inspect. Workers on List A are those who have a permanent right to work in the UK.
Some examples of acceptable documents for List A employees include:
- Their British or Irish passport
- A current Biometric Residence Permit showing the holder has indefinite leave to remain in the UK
- A certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen, combined with an official document showing the employee’s name and NI number
Workers on List B are those who have a temporary right to work in the UK.
Some examples of acceptable documents for List B employees include:
- A current passport and valid visa showing the holder has the right to work in the UK
- A current Biometric Residence Permit showing the holder has the right to work in the UK
- A current Immigration Status Document, with a photograph and an official document showing the employee’s name and NI number
Right to work checks for EEA citizens
From July 2021, the process of completing right to work checks for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens has changed. EEA citizens must provide proof of lawful emigration status in the same way that foreign nationals would. Employers will no longer be able to accept EU passports or ID cards as valid proof of their right to work in the UK, except for Irish citizens.
Employers should also confirm that workers have applied for EU settlement. The application deadline to the EU Settlement Scheme was 30 June 2021, however, late applications can still be made in exceptional circumstances
Conducting a manual document-based right to work check
Step one: Obtain
Ask to see the applicants original documents. The documents you need to see depend on whether an employee is part of List A or List B.
Step two: Check
Check to make sure the documents are genuine and the person presenting them is the rightful owner as well as that all dates of birth across documents match, that no documents are expired and that if there are any differences in names, dates etc that they can be explained.
Step three: Copy
You need to make a copy of each document in a format that cannot be altered and retain this copy in a safe way. You must also keep a record of the date on which you made the check.
The UK government provides the employers right to work checklist and check if someone can work in the UK service, which are useful tools to make sure employees have the correct documents and the correct questions are asked.
Conducting an online right to work check
With the EUSS, settled and pre-settled status is now given electronically, so there isn’t a physical document to check and you’ll need to use the Home Office online service.
First, the individual will log in and review their own information and generate a share code. This share code, as well as the individual’s date of birth, must be given to the employer who can then login and check their right to work status.
Step one: View
Using the Home Office’s online right to work checking service, with the share code your applicant has given you, you can view the employees right to work details. If their visa is only valid for a temporary period, follow up checks will also need to be done.
Step two: Check
Confirm that the photograph on the online right to work check is that of the individual presenting themselves. etc that they can be explained.
Step three: Copy
Retain a clear copy (electronic or hardcopy) of the evidence provided by the online right to work check.
How to legally employ foreign workers in the UK
If you wish to hire any non-settled or overseas workers, including those from the EU and EEA, you will need to register as a UK licensed sponsor. Sable International can help you with every aspect of your application for your sponsor licence as well as maintaining your ongoing sponsorship duties.
How can Sable International help
We understand the complexity of UK immigration law and the issues that could lead to non-compliance. The UK government regularly implements policy changes that could have a significant impact on your business. We remain up to date on all new and proposed regulations on your behalf and can advise on the best way to manage your company’s immigration strategy.
Our immigration audit service will help you to ensure that your company meets all the requirements of the Home Office, thus easing the burden of you having to do so alone. We will guide you through the process of securing a sponsor licence and the ongoing compliance obligations.
Our experienced specialists will ensure:
- That you have the correct processes and human resources practices in place that enable you to meet your sponsorship duties
- You are compliant with your legal responsibilities as an employer to prevent any breach of immigration law
We're here to help. Speak to our business immigration experts today.
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