The Employer’s Guide to Right to Work Checks

The Employer’s Guide to Right to Work Checks - Centric HR

It is easy to sometimes feel lost in the information overload surrounding the UK’s Right to Work Checks. No need to worry, though; in this blog we will explain everything an employer needs to know about checking a person’s right to work and where to find any key documents you may need. 

What are Right to Work Checks? Right to work checks are all about making sure that an individual holds the acceptable documents needed to show permission to work in the UK. These checks include presenting various original documents depending on whether you fall under the category of British citizen or foreign national.

Continue reading to find out what documents you need, when and how to get your right to work checks and who needs them. 

What is a Right to Work Check?

A right of work check involves checking that an individual holds the acceptable documents needed to legally work in the UK. These checks must be carried out for every employee looking to begin work, regardless of race, ethnicity or nationality. 

As a Home Office requirement, if right to work checks are not carried out, there can be serious penalties for those involved. No work of any kind is allowed until these work checks have been completed, failure to produce your valid documents will result in a worker’s start date being delayed. 

Manual Right to Work Checks

An individual’s immigration status at the time of the right to work checks will determine which types of documents need to be reviewed. As such, the Home Office categorises the documents into two lists, A and B. 

List A is for individuals who have permanent right to work in the UK (British citizens, ILR holders and those with settled status under the EU settlement scheme). List B is for individuals whose permission to work is time-limited (EEA Nationality and EU Nationals entering the UK after 1 January 2021). 

This section will run through the various stages needed to carry out in person right to work checks for List A individuals:  

Step 1 – Arrange a face-to-face meeting with the individual in order to check their original documents. In most instances, the individual will need to present:

  • An original passport (current or expired) showing that the holder is a British or Irish citizen. 

OR

  • A birth certificate (short or long) or adoption certificate issued in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Ireland. On top of this, they will need to present an official document containing the National Insurance Number and name issued by a Government agency or previous employer. 
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Step 2 – In the presence of the holder, check their original documents. You want to make sure that the documents are genuine and that the individual presenting them is the rightful holder of the documents. In order to do this, you must check:

  • The photographs and dates of birth are consistent across all documents.
  • The documents are authentic, have not been tampered with and belong to the holder.
  • The reasons for any differences in names across different documents (For example, an original marriage certificate or divorce decree absolute) 

Step 3 – Complete a right to work check label (include your name, signature and date of check)

Step 4 -Take a scanned copy of the passport personal details page or the birth certificate and evidence of NI number. (Note – if you are scanning more than one document, every photocopied side should have the label shown on it.) 

Step 5 – Ensure the scanned copies are clear, legible and saved as a pdf or jpeg file. 

 

For employee’s falling under the List B category (individuals whose permission to work is time-limited, e.g. EEA nationals, and EU nationals coming into the UK after 1 January 2021), employer’s must:

Step 1 – Ensure that they have a saved copy of the individual’s immigration status document. It should contain a photograph to show that the employee has the correct leave and is able to carry out the work. 

Step 2 – Make sure that they hold a copy of a document showing the National Insurance number and name. 

Digital Right to Work Checks

For those looking to complete their right to work checks digitally, we will run through the different types of checks that take place using the Home Office online service. Before continuing, it is important to note that online right to work checks can only be used for individuals that hold one of the following:

  • E-visa
  • Biometric residence permit (BRP) 
  • Biometric residence card (BRC) 
  • Frontier worker permit
  • Pre-settled and settled status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme

 

Step 1 – Ask the individual to view their own right to work status using the Home Office’s online service. Then they must provide you with a share code and their date of birth to allow you to conduct the right to work check:

  • Prove their right to work – for individuals with a valid e-visa, biometric residence permit (BRP), biometric residence card (BRC) or frontier worker permit. 
  • View and prove their immigration status – for individuals that have pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. 
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Step 2 – Using the Home Office online service, type in the share code and individual’s date of birth. This should give you access to the ‘profile’ page that includes the individual’s photo and confirms their right to work. 

Step 3 – Print the profile or save it as a pdf file. 

Step 4 – Arrange to see the individual either in-person or via video call to conduct an identity check.

Step 5 – Either complete the standard right to work check label or tick the boxes on the online check document to confirm who conducted the check and when. 

Who Needs a Right to Work Check?

So, who exactly is required to carry out right to work checks? 

  • All employees (British and Irish nationals, status under the EU Settlement Scheme, visa holders including student visas)
  • Sponsored academic visitors 
  • Casual staff
  • External examiners 
  • Visiting professors and visiting fellows receiving an honorarium 
  • Voluntary work (for example, guest lecturers and conference speakers) 
  • Continuous service gap of more than 3 months
  • Where no existing right to work check can be located on file

Are Right to Work Checks a Legal Requirement?

Put simply, the answer to this question is yes. Since the 1st of October 2022, it is a legal requirement that all employers carry out right to work checks before allowing an employee to start work. 

Who is Responsible for Checking Right to Work in the UK

HR and administration roles within a business can sometimes be a little confusing and can easily overlap. But, who is legally responsible for Right to Work Checks? 

Here is a list of people who are responsible:

  • The Recruitment and/or Immigration team
  • ECS (Employer Checking Service) – free online service that allows employers to carry out their right to work checks. 
  • Employers
  • Schools/Universities 

 

What Documents are Needed for a UK Right to Work Check?

The Home Office provides 2 lists of acceptable documents which employers may accept as a person’s proof of right to work in the UK. It is important to remember that only these documents provide suitable proof of right to work. Copies are not allowed, you must ensure that the documents are all originals. 

The majority of acceptable documents for right to work checks fall into categories depending upon the nationality of the worker:

  1. For British and Irish nationals, they will need to provide:
  • An original passport (current or expired)

OR

  • A birth certificate (short or long) or adoption certificate issued in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Ireland. On top of this, they will need to present an official document containing the National Insurance Number and name issued by a Government agency or previous employer. 
  1. For foreign nationals, they will need to provide: 
  • EU/EEA nationals with status under the EU Settlement Scheme (pre-settled or settled status)
  • Overseas nationals with a biometric residence permit (BRP), biometric residence card (BRC) or frontier worker permit. 
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How long should records of right to work checks be kept for?

This evidence must be retained for the duration of the individual’s employment and for a further two years after they leave your employment.

When Do You Conduct Right to Work Checks?

Checks must be carried out before an individual is employed to make sure that they are legally entitled to work for you. Generally, it is recommended that employers carry out right to work checks at the interview stage

Do You Need to Repeat Right to Work Checks?

Repeat right to work checks are only required when the employee is a List B document holder (individuals whose permission to work is time-limited). As List B documents are fixed-term visas, the employer must secure a new right to work check to allow the employee to continue working. 

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At Centric HR, our experts support different areas of HR consultancy to maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of a business’ HR operations. We make it our priority to listen to our clients’ needs to determine key strategies that highlight potential areas for savings and growth.  

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Sandra Berns

Centric HR was founded by Sandra Berns, a confident and versatile Human Resources and Organisational Development Practitioner with 25 years demonstrable experience and a Fellow of the CIPD. Sandra has both Operational and Strategic HR expertise across Public and Private sectors and has assisted senior teams in meeting challenging workforce objectives in many corporate environments.