Earlier this year the process for conducting checks that employees have permission to work in the UK changed. Employers have a legal duty to ensure the worker can legally work here before employing them. Those found to be employing workers who do not have the right to work in the UK can be charged penalties up to £20,000 per worker, or even face a prison sentence in very serious cases.
The guidance is 72 pages long, so we have tried to summarise the main points. It is important to carry out these checks correctly as, in doing so, it would avoid a penalty even if it later transpires that the worker did not have a right to work here but the checks were correctly carried out.
How do I carry out a Right to Work Check?
There are three ways to carry out the right to work check.
A manual check
Employers must obtain, check, copy and retain copies of documents which evidence the right to work in the UK. The most common document used for this purpose would be a UK or Irish passport. Workers from the EU no longer have an automatic right to work in the UK. The guidance gives a list of other acceptable documents, but if the evidence you are provided with is a non-UK passport, please check the last at Appendix A of the guidance. If this is not on the list, you will need to use a different method. From 1st October, 2022 the document will need to be examined with the worker present as the temporary relaxation allowing this to be done by video link because of Covid is coming to an end.
A check using Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) by the services of an Identity Service Provider (IDSP)
This method is an alternative to a manual check for British and Irish citizens who hold a valid passport (including Irish passport cards).
Digital identity verification conducted by IDSPs is the process of obtaining evidence of the prospective employee’s identity, checking that it is valid and belongs to the person who is claiming it.
A Home Office online right to work check
Workers with a Biometric, Residence Card (BRC), Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or a Frontier Worker Permit (FWP) can gain evidence of their right to work by using the Home Office’s online service which generates a share code, which begins with the letter W, which the employer can use along with their date of birth to use the online checker to verify their immigration status.
Where the worker has a limited right to remain and work in the UK, the employer needs to diarise this key date to ensure that a further check is carried out before the right to work visa expires.
What employers need to do
If you are an employer, we would advise you to update your internal policies and procedures when taking on employees so that all relevant staff have had sufficient training to know what the requirements are and are confident in using the right to work online checking service.