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One of the most common questions that comes up from members at the AC is around Right to Work and what obligations agency leaders have in determining whether their team members have the right to work in the UK.

Our Head of People and Well-Being, Sarah Hoyle has created this helpful guide on what you need to know,

Understanding the Significance

Checking an individual’s right to work in the UK before they commence employment is a legal requirement. Employers must follow the Home Office guidance in place at the time of the check to ensure they have a statutory excuse, providing protection against penalties in case of any inconsistencies or fraudulent documentation. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker and, in severe cases, potential imprisonment for business owners.

Simplifying the Process

There are various methods and considerations to simplify the right to work checks:
1. British or Irish Citizens
•For British or Irish citizens, requesting their passport (even if expired) is the simplest way to verify their right to work.
•The employer should verify the passport’s photo, make a copy, sign, and date it, affirming its authenticity.
2. EU Employees
•EU citizens with settled or pre-settled status have a share code, which can be checked online through the government’s website.
•By verifying the share code and ensuring the person matches the displayed photo, employers can print, sign, and date the verification notice.
3. Non-EU Employees
•Non-EU employees will have either a manual visa in their passport or a biometric visa.
•For manual visas, the employer must physically check the documents in the passport, ensuring it is in-date.
•Biometric visas can be checked online using a share code similar to the EU employee process.
•Employers should be aware that having the right to live in the UK does not guarantee the right to work. Some visas may impose limitations on employment, such as restricted working hours for students.

Utilising ID Service Providers

Employers have the option to utilise approved ID service providers who can perform comprehensive checks on settled/pre-settled status, visas, and access Home Office databases. However, employers must still conduct manual checks for expired British and Irish passports.

Streamlining the Process

Here are some additional tips to streamline the right-to-work checking process:
1.Include a clear question in the application process regarding the applicant’s right to work.
2.Request applicants to bring their right-to-work documentation to the interview stage, even for video interviews.
3.Consider arranging a face-to-face meeting or including a face-to-face element in the recruitment process to ensure proper verification.
4.Include a clause in the offer letter stating that the offer is subject to receiving satisfactory references and evidence of the right to work.
5.A driving licence is not proof of right to work, so you cannot accept it.

Right to Work

Ensuring compliance with these regulations is crucial for employers to avoid penalties and legal complications. It’s crucial to follow the Home Office guidance and conduct thorough checks. By implementing these best practices, employers can streamline their verification process while staying compliant with the law.

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HR and wellbeing

Sarah Hoyle, Head of People and Wellbeing, The Agency Collective

Sarah is the resident HR expert at The Agency Collective. If you are a member, you get Sarah included in your membership and she is on hand to help agency founders with their everyday HR challenges.

When not talking about all things employment law and HR, shes enjoy inspiring others to help young people into the world of work (that means lots of work with schools), mentoring and changing a little corner of the world.