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Checking whether or not people are eligible to work is relatively easy. This blog explains how to check someone you wish to employ is who they say they are and that they have the legal right to work in the UK.

Why is checking for Right to Work important?

The law on preventing illegal working is set out in the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. Under this Act all businesses have a duty to prevent illegal working by carrying out document checks to confirm that a person has the right
to work in the UK. If a person has a restriction on the type of work they can do and, or, the amount of hours they can work, then you must not employ them in breach of these restrictions.

If you don’t do this for every employee who starts working for you, you are breaking the law, and the penalties can be severe, including fines and prison sentences for the worst offenders.

Step 1 – Request documents.

The identification you need to see depends on where the person is from and what their visa/residency status is.

The Home Office defines the documents which can be accepted in two comprehensive lists – List A and List B.

For most people you will only need to see a valid document from List A which shows that the person has no restrictions on their stay. You will only need a document from List B if the documents in List A do not prove that your would-be employee has the right to work in the UK.

Step 2 – Check the documents for authenticity.

You must check that the documents you have been provided with show that they are authentic. Of course you aren’t a trained fraud expert, but you do need to take reasonable steps to make sure that they aren’t fake. Start by ensuring you are looking at the original real document – not a copy. Good things to look out for include:

  • documents haven’t been tampered with (i.e. check that logos/holograms/photos are secure and that there is no evidence that they have been laid over another image).
  • that the documents haven’t expired or dates on visas or leave to remain documents haven’t expired.
  • that the photo looks like the person.
  • the date of birth on the document seems consistent with the employee’s age.
  • that any visa provided covers the type of work they’ll be doing

If you are ever in doubt you should check what to look for and how to look with the Home Office department UK Visas and Immigration.

Step 3 – Check if the person has the right to work in the UK.

For most people wanting to work for you, checking that they have a valid passport either from the UK or other European Community country, or from another country with a valid Visa or Work permit stamp in it from the Home Office will be sufficient.

If the visa or work permit stamp refers to any restrictions then you should look at one of the documents from List B, and check with that document whether or not this person has the right to do the job you want them to do.

This area can be confusing. If you are in any doubt, it is best to check with UK Visas and Immigration.

Step 4 – Make a note of any restrictions.

This might include visa expiry dates, or maximum hours which can be worked in a week. If you have been provided with any documents from List B you will need to check them again regularly. Where there are visa expiry dates, we recommend setting up such employees on a fixed term contract, due to the visa restrictions.

Step 5 – Take a copy of documents.

This includes UK passports. Take a copy of the front page and any page with the employee’s details on it. Also copy any pages with visas or right to work certificates. For any other documents copy all pages. If in doubt copy everything.

Step 6 – Note authenticity on the copies.

Use wording like ‘I confirm that the document provided appears to be a true likeness to the person in question’ (if photo ID) or ‘I confirm this document is in date and appears to be genuine’. The person checking the documents needs to add their own name and the date of checking.

Step 7 – Store the copy documents on the employee file.

The last thing to do is to keep a copy on the employee’s personnel file. If you have HR software like the citrusHR system you would scan the documents directly to the system.

This area can be confusing and if you are in any doubt at any point we strongly recommend checking with a qualified HR consultant who will be able to advise you and you can also consider checking with UK Visas and Immigration.

If you need any guidance on right to work checks or any other HR issue please get in touch with us on 0333 444 0165 or email help@citrushr.com.

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