Home Office update on
Right to Work checks

All UK employers are required by law to carry out initial right to work checks on each individual worker they intend to hire, in order to prevent illegal working.

It is an offence to knowingly employ anyone who does not have the right to work in the UK by reason of their immigration status. Employers can face a civil penalty of up to £20,000 for each illegally employed worker who does not have the right to work in the UK, and where correct right to work checks were not undertaken.

From 1 July 2021, the process for completing right to work checks on EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will change, and employers will no longer be able to accept EU passports or ID cards as valid proof of their right to work in the UK, except for Irish citizens.

In this article, we recap the process for checking an employee’s right to work, including current COVID-19 concessions and how to check the status of your European staff.

Coronavirus concessions extended until September

Due to the impact of the pandemic, temporary adjustments have been introduced to allow employers to carry out right to work checks on their employees remotely. The concessions allow employers to carry out the necessary checks over video calls, with job applicants and existing workers permitted to send scanned copies or photos of their documents rather than sending the originals.

The Home Office previously announced that these concessions would be extended until 21 June 2021, when the UK was due to remove all restrictions on social distancing. However, following the government’s recent decision to delay step four of the roadmap out of lockdown, the Home Office has announced that adjusted right to work checks will now be extended until 31 August 2021 (inclusive).

From 1 September 2021, employers must either:

  • Check the applicant’s original documents, or
  • Check the applicant’s right to work online, if they’ve provided their share code.

How to conduct a Right to Work check

There are two types of right to work check: a manual check and an online check. The type of check you will need to conduct depends on the status of the individual you are employing.

  • Manual right to work checks can be completed for UK and Irish nationals who can use their passport as proof of their right to work in the UK. A manual check should also be conducted for individuals who do not hold a digital immigration status. A manual right to work check consists of three steps:
    • Ask to see the applicant’s original documents
    • Check that the documents are valid with the applicant present
    • Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date you made the check.
  • Online right to work checks are required for individuals who only hold digital proof of their immigration status in the UK. This includes most EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. To carry out an online right to work check, you will need the applicant’s date of birth and their share code, which they can obtain online here. The check can then be completed online by visiting https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-work

Full guidance for conducting both manual and online right to work checks can be found here.

Right to Work checks for EU citizens

Employers are not required to carry out retrospective right to work checks on any EU, EEA or Swiss citizens whom they employed before 1 July 2021. However, from this date you will need to check the immigration status of any new European hires to confirm they have the right to work in the UK post-Brexit.

You can check their right to work online using their share code, or by checking their original documents if they do not have a UK immigration status that can be shared digitally. Acceptable documents include:

  • Irish passport or passport card
  • Frontier Worker Permit
  • Documents issued by the Crown Dependencies EU Settlement Schemes, when verified by the relevant Home Office checking service
  • Certificate of Application or document issued by the UK, Jersey or Guernsey EU Settlement Schemes, confirming an application made by the 30 June deadline, when verified by the relevant Home Office checking service.

Post-Brexit immigration compliance

There are now less than two weeks remaining until the EU Settlement Scheme deadline. Employers of European staff should take extra care to ensure their employees have secured the necessary permission to continue living and working in the UK from 1 July 2021.

For advice and support on maintaining immigration compliance post-Brexit, please speak to a SSW advisor.

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