Right To Work: the employer’s guide

Businesses in the UK recruit new employees routinely, but regardless of organisation size or sector, all employers must ensure that any current or potential employees have the right to work in the UK.

In order to fulfil this legal responsibility, employers must implement a right to work check on their staff prior to them commencing work within the company. This involves checking original documents provided by the job applicant so that their right to work can be established.

The right to work check is imperative to stop illegal working in the UK and it should be in the interest of any business that all appropriate checking is undertaken or else the employer is likely to face severe consequences.

If the government discover that an organisation has been employing an illegal worker without completing a right to work check, they will be liable for a civil penalty. It is therefore advisable that if an employer has any reason to think that one of their staff members should not be working in the UK, they are, essentially, committing a crime and could potentially encounter a prison sentence of up to five years and/or an unlimited fine.

Employers must ensure they undertake checks on all staff. Many people often make assumptions on a person’s right to work due to the length of time they have spent in the UK, however, these assumptions can be dangerous so please treat every person in the same manner.

What is involved in a Right to Work check?

  1. You must see the applicant’s original documents;
  2. Ensure the documents are valid with the applicant present;
  3. Make a copy of the document and record the date that it was recorded.

Please ensure that:

  1. All documents are genuine, original and unchanged and belong to the person that has produced the documents to you;
  2. The dates of the applicant’s right to work have not expired;
  3. The date of birth and photos should be consistent across all documents;
  4. The documents have not been tampered with;
  5. If two documents give two different names, the applicant has supporting documents showing why they are different, such as a marriage certificate or a divorce decree;

Once all documents have been seen, the employer is advised to take a photocopy of the credentials and they must keep the copy of these while the individual is working for the company – it should also be noted that an employer should retain the copied documents for two years after they have stopped working for an organisation.

Please follow this link to find all acceptable ID documents :  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/acceptable-right-to-work-documents-an-employers-guide

What if an individual cannot produce ID documents?

If an individual cannot produce their ID documents, the employer must contact the Home Office to check the immigration employment status on the individual.

An immigration employment status would also need to be performed if an applicant has:

  1. An Application Registration Card OR
  2. A Certificate of Application that is less than 6 months old.

Please note that the documents listed  above must state that the work the employer is offering is permitted because many of these documents do not allow the person to work.

Once the status check has been performed, the Home Office will send a ‘Positive Verification Notice’ to confirm that the applicant has the right to work in the UK.

If you have any questions relating to this topic, please call the Care Check team on 0333 777 8575.