What are Right to Work checks?
The UK government requires employers to carry out Right to Work checks to ensure that employees have the legal right to work in the country. These checks are necessary to comply with the UK’s immigration laws and prevent illegal working. Right to Work checks involve verifying an individual's immigration status and ensuring that they have the necessary documentation to work legally in the UK. Employers are required to check the documents of all employees, regardless of their nationality or ethnicity - in particular, you cannot correctly know an employee’s nationality without carrying out the check.
What documents can be used to evidence the Right to Work?
The documents that can be used to demonstrate the right to work in the UK include a passport, biometric residence permit (“BRP card”) or visa, or a combination of these documents. However, you should note that for those individuals holding either a BRP card or a digital visa, it is now compulsory to use the Home Office’s online Right to Work check system - it is no longer permitted to simply rely on taking copies of a BRP card. If checking documents, then the documents should be in the physical possession of the person doing the check, although the employee can appear remotely via a video call (to ensure that the image in the document matches the employee’s appearance).
How long must records be kept?
The employer must take a copy of the documents and retain them for the duration of the individual’s employment and for two years after they leave. Similarly, for those using the online checking service, the PDF or other electronic record should be stored securely for that same time period.
What are the possible consequences of failing to carry out Right to Work checks?
If an employer fails to carry out a Right to Work check or knowingly employs an illegal worker, they could face a penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker. In addition to financial penalties, employers could also face criminal prosecution which can include imprisonment, a fine (unlimited), and damage to their reputation through publication on the Home Office’s “name and shame” list of employers who have received a penalty.
How and when should Right to Work checks be done?
It is important for employers to carry out Right to Work checks correctly in accordance with the specific Home Office requirements, to ensure that they remain compliant with UK immigration laws. These checks should be carried out before employment begins, and employers should also carry out repeat checks for individuals who have time-limited permission to work in the UK, such as those with a working visa (for example, Skilled Worker visa, Global Business Mobility/ICT visa, etc.).
What if an individual is unable to produce documents?
Employers can also use the government’s online Right to Work Checking Service to verify an individual’s right to work in the UK if the individual is unable to provide any documents - normally due to those documents still being with the Home Office as part of an ongoing visa application. This service is not to be confused with the above-referred to online checks. Although this is still an online system, it is a separate website and is only to be used where there is a specific reason why the ordinary checks cannot be completed.
How 3CS can help
In conclusion, Right to Work checks are an essential part of the UK’s immigration laws, and it is the responsibility of employers to ensure that these checks are carried out correctly. By following the correct procedures and keeping up to date with any changes in legislation, employers can protect themselves from the consequences of non-compliance. For specific advice and guidance, please contact one of our team.