UK employers have a legal obligation to adhere to the prevention of illegal working legislation. This mandates them to perform basic checks on every UK-based employee to confirm they have the necessary permission to undertake the work provided. These checks should be applied uniformly to all potential employees, irrespective of their nationality, race, or ethnicity.
- Legal Obligation: Employers in the UK must ensure that they are hiring individuals who have the right to work in the country. This involves conducting checks on every employee.
- Consistent Checks: It is crucial to perform these checks consistently and in compliance with the law to avoid allegations of breaches.
- Methods of Checking: Employers can conduct Right to Work checks manually, digitally, or online. The type of check depends on factors like the nationality of the worker.
- Document Verification: Depending on the immigration status of the individual at the time of the check, different documents may be required.
- Online Checks: The Home Office provides an online checking service that can be used in certain situations, such as when an individual has a biometric residence permit or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
- EU Workers: Post-Brexit, the rules for checking the Right to Work of EU, EEA (European Economic Area), and Swiss nationals have changed.
You can avoid incurring a Civil Penalty by conducting appropriate right-to-work checks. If you have carried out suitable document checks, you will have a ‘statutory excuse’ and will not be liable for a civil penalty.
Document checks will not protect you against prosecution if you knew the worker did not have permission to work, or if you could have known.
The Home Office publishes lists of all civil penalties imposed on companies. These are freely accessible to the public using the Home Office website. The Home Office often also issues press releases to local and national media, naming companies that have employed workers illegally.
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