Right to work checks are an essential exercise during the recruitment process, but what exactly does this mean for UK employers and how should right to work checks be carried out?

What are right to work checks?

Right to work checks are a pre-employment check that organisations have a legal duty to take to ensure that they are not employing illegal workers in the UK. Employers must therefore check the eligibility of job applicants to ensure that they have the legal right to work in the UK.

What repercussions could employers face if found to be employing an illegal worker?

Right to work checks are a preventative measure for employers to reduce the risk of incurring serious civil penalties if they are found to be employing an illegal worker over the age of 16. The penalty fines for employing an illegal worker were last increased in 2014 and are set to triple. According to Gov.uk these fines will increase:

  • From £15,00 per illegal worker for a first breach up to £45,000.
  • From £20,000 per repeat breach up to £60,000.

What is an illegal worker?

According to the CIPD “Section 15 of the 2006 Act defines illegal workers as adults, those aged over 16, who are subject to immigration control and do not have permission to carry out the work in question because they:

  • have not been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK, or
  • their leave to enter or remain in the UK is invalid, no longer applies or prevents them from carrying out the particular employment.”

How do you conduct a right to work checks?

There are three methods for conducting right to work checks. These are:

  1. Manual right to work checks using original documents

It’s important to check that the documentation matches the individual in front of you and that this is signed and dated.

  1. Using an Identify Service Provider (IDSP)

The Gov website details a list of certified IDSP bodies for digital right to work checks.

  1. Online right to work checks for foreign nationals

The Home Office online checking service is available for foreign nationals who hold biometric residence permits and ‘eVisa’ holders. Employers are no longer able to accept physical documents and must request a share code and date of birth to undertake the right to work check online.

How long should right to work checks be stored?

Right to work checks should be stored throughout the duration of someone’s employment and then a further two years from their last date of employment.

If there is a time restriction on an individual’s right to work in the UK, the right to work check will need to be taken again at a later date close to when their documents are near expiry.

We recommend using a HR software to safely and electronically store all right to work checks and employee documents in one easy to navigate cloud-based system.

For more information please click here to visit the Gov guidance.

If you would like support with taking right to work checks, please get in touch with a member of our HR team at hr@nortonloxley.com.