Employers are now able to rely on an online Right to Work Checking Service to check whether someone has the right to work in the UK.
The Home Office has rolled out an electronic right to work checking service which enables right to work checks to be conducted via an online platform (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/online-right-to-work-checks), without the need for paper documents to be checked.
It can be used to check the immigration status for:
- non-EEA nationals who hold Biometric Residence Permits or Biometric Residence Cards;
- EEA nationals who have been granted settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme; and
- UK nationals who do not hold British passports or long form birth/adoption certificates.
The online service cannot be used to check the immigration status for those whose leave in the UK is evidenced by a visa in their passport or EEA nationals who have not been granted settled status. Employers will still need to undertake paper based checks in relation to these individuals.
The use of the online system is voluntary and it can be found at the following link -https://www.gov.uk/prove-right-to-work.
The ramifications of being issued with a civil penalty go far beyond the £20,000 fine that can be levied per illegal migrant. Reputational damage and the impact on any Tier 2 sponsor licence held by the employer can outweigh the financial concerns. It is therefore crucial that employers conduct right to work checks correctly and, importantly, that the checks are undertaken prior to the individual starting their role. This is because the employer will only obtain a statutory excuse against the issue of a civil penalty, should their employee subsequently be found to be working illegally in the UK, if they are able to demonstrate that they conducted the right to work check correctly before the individual started work for them. Furthermore, Tier 2 sponsors must carry out compliant right to work checks as part of their sponsorship obligations.
The Home Office publishes a selection of useful guidance notes https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/right-to-work-checks-employer-guidance to help employers get it right.