Proving you have the right to work in the UK can be confusing. New immigration laws also mean that employers have to check your eligibility to work in the UK. This means that you will need to provide documents that prove your right to work in the UK, even if you have been a resident for many years or are already a British Citizen.
Our guide gives an easy to understand overview of the process. It’s important that employers make the right checks and keep records of them. Failing to do this can lead to prosecution and large fines because of strict UK immigration rules.
Eligibility to Work in the UK
Some people are automatically entitled to work in the UK. Others may have restrictions on working, how long they can stay and the type of work they can do. So who has the right to work in the UK?
- British Citizens.
- Holders of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or other settled status.
- Anyone with a UK work visa.
There are no restrictions on the right to work in the UK for anyone who is a British Citizen. Similarly, anyone with a residency visa or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) can work in any job. EU Citizens who have settled or pre settled status can also work without any conditions being placed upon them.
Conducting Right to Work Checks
It’s the responsibility of all employers to have consistent systems to conduct right to work checks. This must be done in a way that does not constitute discrimination in the workplace. This means right to work checks must be conducted in an even handed way, with processes applied to all employees.
Asking for documents to check eiligibility to work in the UK must not be done on the basis of race, or nationality. This could leave an employer open to being taken to an employment tribunal for discrimination in the workplace.
It is important to follow procedures and to confirm a person is eligible to work in the UK before employing them. Prevention of Illegal Working legislation means an employer could be held criminally liable if they employ someone without proper permission to work in the UK.
How to Prove Right to Work in The UK
There are, by law, 3 lists of documents acceptable as evidence of legal working status in the UK. More information about these lists can be obtained from the Home Office.
Maintaining Statutory Excuse
Conducting proper checks and keeping records of them provides employers with a “statutory excuse”. That means if they are later found to be employing an illegal worker, they’ll be excused from hefty civil penalties. Fines are currently set at up to £20,000 per worker.
Employers also need to make sure they take the right steps to maintain their statutory excuse. If someone’s work visa expires during employment and no further checks are conducted, this leaves the business open to penalties.
Right to Work Documents
Employers must ask new employees for documents proving their right to work in the UK.
To do this, they should show documents from one of the relevant Home Office Guidance lists. The correct list to use depends on the worker’s immigration status.
How to Conduct Document Checks
Proper checks must be conducted on the right documents provided by workers. They must be original documents which can be authenticated, not copies. They must also be on the list as outlined by the Home Office.
The business must take all reasonable steps to ensure the potential employee is the rightful owner of the presented documents.
Businesses should keep copies of all documents in a format that can’t be altered. This could include scans or hard copies.
The Immigration Service can examine your statutory excuse if they suspect anyone of illegally working for you. It isn’t appropriate, however, to keep the original documents. They should be copied in full and the originals returned to the owner. Copied documents should be kept for a minimum of 3 years after the employee has ceased working the business.
If in doubt or you wish to find out further information, contact the Home Office or Immigration Service.