Right to work in the UK checks – 1st October 2022

Are you aware of the upcoming changes to right to work in the UK checks? Did you know that if you employ an individual without the legal right to work in the UK, you could be fined up to £20k or face 5 years in prison?

Not knowing you have to check an individual’s right to work in the UK status or claiming not to have the time to check as there are so many other priorities at the moment (soaring energy bills and difficulty in recruiting) is not a legal defence.

As an employer, you are not expected to check the right to work of a candidate to the nth’ degree, you are, however, expected to conduct adequate right to work in the UK checks. Once you’ve done this, you will have a statutory excuse if it turns out that particular individual does not actually have the right to work legally within the UK.

So, what are the adequate right to work in the UK checks?

Currently, we have 2 forms of checking:

  1. Manual checks of the documents from the Government’s List A and List B
  1. The Government’s ‘Employer Checking Service’

The manual checks of British and Irish citizens are currently permitted to be conducted without having seen the individual in person (adjusted checks). Many employers use video calls on platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, Covid-19 was the driver for this. These adjusted checks are coming to an end on 30th September 2022.

What you need to know as an employer

Get used to the term ‘Digital Identity Service Provider (IDSP)’. These are certified organisations who can conduct ‘right to work in the UK checks’ on your behalf.

From 1st October 2022, the adjusted checks will no longer be permitted. The options available to you as an employer will be:

  1. To manually check the documents whilst in the presence of the individual (British and Irish Nationals)
  2. To use the services of an IDSP for British and Irish Nationals
  3. Continue to use the Employer Checking Service with a share code for foreign nationals. The individual will provide you with a Share Code to enable you to check on the Government website for their current status in terms of being legally permitted to work in the UK.

What you should be doing now in connection with right to work in the UK checks

  1. Look for an IDSP, should you wish to use this service; it is not mandatory and comes with a cost. Do not treat candidates less favourably for not wishing to provide their documents to an IDSP and where they do not hold a valid current passport.
  2. Ensure that you update policies and inform all recruiting managers that no offer of employment is to be made to a candidate, either verbally or in writing until the right to work in the UK checks have been conducted. It can get quite messy to retract an offer of employment. Also consider the time involved to create, draft and provide all of the employment documentation to a new starter, it’s not time efficient if the offer is retracted.
  3. When checking documents manually, you are advised to:
    1. Check the documents (e.g passport, birth certificate, adoption certificate, etc) are not tampered with
    2. Check the name is the same on each document
    3. Check any changes due to marriage etc are supported by the relevant documentation
    4. Check your current employee records where they are restricted with the date they can legally work in the UK and ensure the correct checks are conducted in advance of the expiry date on their current documents
    5. Verify the documents

Retention periods

  1. Be clear to those candidates where you copy and verify their documents and how they will be processed. Our advice is that unless they are offered employment that the certified copies of ID and right to work in the UK are confidentially disposed of without delay.
  2. Keep the copies of a successful candidate for 2 years after their termination date

The clock is ticking, please ensure you have informed and where relevant trained recruiting managers of this upcoming change.

If you would like any HR advice regarding processing new starters or any other HR matter, please get in touch

Employment Documents, Right to Work in the UK

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