Right to Work
Ensure UK legal compliance by conducting mandatory employee Right to Work checks. Our affordable solutions guarantee effective compliance.
Right to work consultancy
In accordance with the law, all companies are obligated to verify and maintain documentation proving that each of their employees possesses the lawful authorization to work within the UK. Should a UK-based company be discovered employing an individual without the proper UK work permissions, it could face penalties amounting to a maximum of £20,000 per unauthorized worker, in addition to other punitive actions. Despite a company’s awareness of its responsibilities under the Right to Work legislation and its efforts to establish compliant policies and procedures, numerous practical challenges persist that might lead to inadvertent breaches and subsequent enforcement actions targeting the employer.
As an illustration, maintaining uniformity in implementing Right to Work procedures across an organization encompassing numerous locations and a sizable, dynamic workforce can prove to be a formidable task. The guidelines themselves are intricate and pose challenges in terms of interpretation, and the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) regularly modify the legislation, leading to complexities in staying abreast of the most current stipulations.
We can help
We are specializes in providing comprehensive assistance to UK employers in maintaining their Right to Work compliance. Our expert team comprises immigration lawyers and former Home Office staff, uniquely positioned to offer guidance and confidence in fulfilling your obligations consistently. We employ legal expertise, analytical insight, and technology-driven approaches to ensure you can effectively meet your responsibilities over the long term.
We support organisations across the UK with our Right to Work consultancy services, including:
Our services encompass:
- Comprehensive assessment of your current Right to Work verification, monitoring policies, processes, and systems. We pinpoint potential areas of risk and provide actionable recommendations to prevent breaches while enhancing efficiency and effectiveness.
- Thorough review and audit of existing personnel records to validate the Right to Work status of your employees.
- Tailored training sessions covering all categories of Right to Work checks. We offer training to HR personnel, line managers, supervisors, and other relevant personnel involved in onboarding. This training ensures compliance with necessary documentation, and we also provide confirmation of completed training.
- Developing protocols to ensure compliance with Prevention of Illegal Working requirements while safeguarding against any forms of discrimination.
- Expert guidance on maintaining meticulous record-keeping practices to align with regulatory demands.
- Profound insights into individual employee situations, including complex scenarios such as List B documents, permissible working hours for students, and instances of revoked work permissions.
- Skillful representation in contesting civil penalties and defending against allegations of compliance breaches put forth by the Home Office.
Different types of Right to Work checks
Employers have several avenues to perform a right to work check, aiming to confirm that an employee’s immigration status does not disqualify them from working in the UK or carrying out the specific job offered. Nevertheless, the approach to conducting various types of right to work checks is influenced by the employee’s nationality and the specifics of their immigration authorization.
The different types of right to work checks are as follows:
- An identity service provider’s right to work check
- An online right to work check using a share code
- An in-person manual document right to work check
- An employer checking service’s right to work check
By carrying out a proper right to work check, employers gain a statutory defense against potential civil liabilities. This safeguard ensures that if an employer is found to have employed an individual unlawfully, but has adhered to the mandated right to work verification process as stipulated by regulations, they establish a valid defense against civil penalties. Conversely, neglecting to perform right to work checks leaves the employer vulnerable to penalties that could extend up to £20,000 per unauthorized worker.
Identity service provider Right to Work checks
An identity service provider’s right to work check introduces a novel method of conducting prescribed verifications through an Identity Service Provider (IDSP). In this process, the employer engages a certified IDSP to digitally authenticate a worker’s identity utilizing Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT), effectively entrusting specific aspects of the validation procedure to the IDSP.
During the process of performing an IDVT check, the IDSP is obligated to diligently validate the authenticity of the document submitted by the potential employee, ensuring it aligns with their rightful ownership. This entails capturing specific details, such as an image of the biometric page of the identity document containing the individual’s personal information, photograph, and document expiration date. The IDSP is required to meticulously record this information in a format that maintains clarity and cannot be manually modified. Furthermore, the date of the identity check carried out on behalf of the employer must also be included in this comprehensive record.
While the employer retains responsibility for right to work checks, they should obtain the IDVT check and document copy from the IDSP. This ensures the IDSP’s compliance. The employer must confirm the IDVT data matches the candidate and retain it securely for employment duration plus two years.
Crucially, an IDSP’s services are limited to digital identity checks for employees holding valid British or Irish passports, or an Irish passport card. This is due to British and Irish nationals being exempt from obtaining a share code through the online right to work check, which would typically replace a manual passport check. If a candidate is using an expired passport to establish their UK work authorization, an IDVT check is not applicable. In such cases, the employer must opt for a prescribed manual document check instead.
Online Right to Work checks using share codes
The Home Office provides a free service called the Right to Work Checking Service, allowing potential employees to share an alphanumeric code with their prospective employer to confirm their UK work eligibility. To acquire this share code, individuals need to access the “Prove your right to work to an employer” section on the GOV.UK Right to Work Checking Service website.
Once in possession of a valid share code, the employer can access the employee’s right to work record. This is achieved by entering the share code and the employee’s date of birth in the employer’s section of the service, specifically under ‘View a job applicant’s right to work details’. The information is presented instantaneously, offering insights into the type of permissible work and the duration it is authorized for, in cases where a time limit is applicable.
Once granted access to the employee’s right to work record, the employer should confirm the alignment of the online photo with the individual. Furthermore, it’s imperative for the employer to securely retain an electronic or hard copy of the online service’s response for the duration of the person’s employment and an extra 2-year span thereafter.
The utilization of an online right to work check through a share code is now extended to a majority of migrant workers. This encompasses EEA and Swiss personnel possessing valid immigration status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), as well as those with a biometric residence card, biometric residence permit, or frontier worker permit. Additionally, the Home Office is progressively issuing eVisas to overseas nationals as evidence of immigration status, often replacing physical documents. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that a migrant worker isn’t obligated to provide an employer with a share code; failure to do so shouldn’t result in penalties as long as a manual right to work check is feasible. In certain cases, where the immigration status is solely in digital form, conducting a manual check might not be viable.
Manual document Right to Work checks
Conducting an in-person manual document right to work check entails the employer requesting the potential employee to furnish specific original documents listed in either List A or List B of acceptable documents available on GOV.UK. List A documents establish a permanent authorization for working in the UK, while List B documents signify a restricted duration of work eligibility.
After receiving the document(s) in person, the employer must confirm the individual’s rightful ownership, valid UK work authorization, suitability for the offered work, and authenticity of the document(s). Clear unalterable copies must be made and retained, along with the check date, for secure storage for 2 years post-employment.
A manual document-based check is applicable when an employee’s immigration status can’t be verified through a share code, or if the share code isn’t provided by the prospective employee and a manual check is possible. It’s noteworthy that the remote right to work checks, which temporarily allowed validation via live video link due to COVID-19, ceased as of September 30, 2022.
Employer Checking Service
An employer checking service called right to work check is used when an employee has applied for an extended stay in the UK, but a decision is pending. The employee’s work rights continue during this period, but the employer can’t perform online or manual checks. Instead, they must obtain a Positive Verification Notice (PVN) through the Employer Checking Service (ECS).
To obtain a PVN from the ECS, the employer must provide their business information, employee’s details, job title, and the case ID or Home Office reference number linked to the application. If the application was submitted before the previous leave’s expiration, the employer should receive a PVN affirming the person’s UK work entitlement. Like other right to work checks, the employer needs to retain a copy of the PVN for record-keeping purposes.
In such situations, the employer should postpone the employee’s start date until they receive confirmation of the individual’s work rights through a PVN from the ECS.
Follow-up Right to Work checks
It’s essential to perform right-to-work checks not only for potential employees but also for current employees with time-limited UK work authorization. For instance, individuals with permission to work under specific routes who haven’t applied for settlement will have a restricted stay duration. Consequently, employers must conduct a follow-up check just before the employee’s existing leave expires. This is necessary to maintain their legal defense and prevent potential civil penalties.
Similarly, a subsequent check is required when the employer acquires a PVN from the ECS. This is because a PVN is included in List B (Group 2) of acceptable documents, entailing a time-limited statutory excuse that remains valid for 6 months. In contrast, for List B (Group 1) documents, the statutory excuse extends until the expiration of the granted leave.
Existing employees applying to extend their UK stay can work during the application process if submitted before their current leave expires. The employer’s defense lasts 28 days after permission expiration, allowing a PVN. Notably, the 28-day grace period doesn’t apply to pre-employment checks; the employer must wait for a 6-month PVN before hiring.
Upon the expiration of an employee’s UK work permission, unless they have sought further leave, it becomes unlawful to retain their employment. In such cases, the employer could face not only civil penalties but also potential criminal charges. Employing a migrant worker knowingly or with reasonable suspicion of their lost work authorization is an offense subject to a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment, an unrestricted fine, or both.
Illegally hiring migrant workers can result in the revocation of the employer’s sponsor license, potentially leading to the loss of overseas nationals with valid UK work rights, seizure of earnings from unauthorized work, significant harm to the business reputation and brand, and director disqualification.
Right to work: employer considerations
The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 mandates companies to verify and retain proof of each employee’s legal right to work in the UK.
Section 8 necessitates checking and retaining proper documentation, demonstrating the right to work in a prescribed format. Section 22 ensures checks are non-discriminatory, applicable to all employees, irrespective of nationality, tenure, or role. Align your HR procedures with Home Office guidelines, confirming each employee’s right to work through acceptable documentation. During pre-employment, request original passports or identity documents. British citizens without a passport should provide a birth certificate (long version) and a P45.
Categorize employees as List A (citizens, settled status, ILR) or List B (subject to immigration control). List B further divides into Groups 1 and 2. Example: A dependent Spouse Visa holder becomes List B Group 1. After application submission, reclassify to Group 2, then back to Group 1 post-approval.
Maintain statutory defense by securely storing verified documents. Retain Right to Work checks for 2 years post-employment. Compliance risks arise with changes in EU worker rights and the pandemic. List B workers require repeat checks; losing work rights demands legal advice. Educate all involved, including non-HR personnel, on Right to Work responsibilities. Ongoing compliance requires consistent implementation and monitoring of HR processess.
Right to work FAQs
What are right to work checks?
Right to work checks are conducted by employers to verify that their employees are legally entitled to work in the UK and perform the offered job, thus preventing illegal employment. These checks can be either online or manual.
Are right to work checks a legal requirement?
UK employers are obligated to perform prescribed right to work checks on new employees before they commence work, a measure aimed at preventing individuals without legal immigration status from engaging in illegal work in the UK.
What are the three steps of a right to work document check?
The process of conducting right to work document checks involves three steps: requesting original documents from List A or B, verifying their validity in the employee’s presence, and creating and retaining copies.
How long do right to work checks take?
Various types of right to work checks have differing steps and durations. An online check with a share code can be done within minutes, whereas a manual document check may take more time.