From 1st July 2021, the process for completing the right to work checks on EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will change. This is following the end of the Brexit transitional period that the UK government agreed with the EU. Employers will no longer be able to accept EU passports or EU National ID cards on their own, as valid proof of rights to work or rent in the UK.
The above change of rules does not apply to Irish citizens (that is, nationals from the Republic of Ireland and not to be confused with individuals from Northern Ireland which is part of the UK) as even though the Republic of Ireland is a member of the EU, they are part of the Common Travel Area with the UK and so their rights to work and rent will remain the same as you would check a UK national.
In addition to the above, employers will not need to retrospectively check the status of any EU, EEA or Swiss nationals who were employed before the 1st July 2021, as they will have qualified to remain in the UK under the transitional arrangements that were agreed with the EU.
What are right to work checks?
The UK government requires employers to check all job applicants’ entitlement to work in the UK before employing them, to avoid being liable for a civil penalty. Failure to carry out this mandatory requirement can lead to fines of up to £20,000 for each illegally employed worker who does not have the appropriate documents, including where correct checks were not undertaken by the employer.
There are two types of right to work checks that can be done by an employer:
1. A manual check. This is where the employer asks for the potential employees’ original documents, such as passports, a valid visa vignette/ Biometric Residence Card or any other relevant identity document etc. for assessment and then taking the appropriate copies for your records.
2. An online check. This is mainly required for individuals who only hold digital proof of their immigration status in the UK. This will include most EU, EEA and Swiss nationals as their UK immigration status following Brexit were issued in a digital format only. It may also include non-EU applicants who have submitted valid and pending visa applications with the Home Office and they maintain their rights to work in the UK before a decision is made on their cases.
How are online right to work checks carried out?
To carry out an online right to work check with the Home Office, employers can use the following link to confirm an individual’s work status in the UK. https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-work
The Home Office will then respond with a ‘Positive Verification Notice’ to confirm the applicant has a right to work, which you can then store in your personnel records as proof of right to work as required by the rules. In the event of a ‘Negative Verification Notice’, you will then know not to hire the particular individual unless they provide some other credible proof/evidence of their status in the UK.
How about right to rent checks?
Similar rule changes will apply from 1st July 2021, with regards to the right to rent checks. All landlords will be required to check the documents of EU, EEA and Swiss nationals (except for Irish citizens) to confirm their lawful status in the UK, much in the same manner they are required to check non-EU nationals, before entering into a tenancy agreement, to avoid being liable for a civil penalty. Failure to do so will attract fines of up to £3,000 for each tenant who does not have a right to rent.
If you require any assistance and further guidance on how to conduct appropriate right to work checks or any other immigration compliance matter, please contact one of our team members.