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Compliance: Right to Work in the UK Documentation

Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

Note: this article was first written by our colleagues at Solve HR, before Solve HR joined Law At Work in March 2020. We have imported this...

So you think you've found your ideal candidate for the job but how can you be sure that they have the right to work in the UK and what are the consequences if they don't? Legal Requirements Since The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 came into effect on 29 February 2008 the onus has been on employers to ensure that employees are eligible to work in the UK. All employers are responsible for checking documents to establish a person's eligibility to work in the UK and compliance with any restrictions. Civil penalties are in place with fines of up to £10,000 for each illegally employed worker, and unlimited fines and imprisonment of up to 2 years for knowingly employing illegal workers. So it's vital that all employers know what they have to do to ensure that they recruit only those who have the right to work in the UK before they start work. Documentation It's important not to make assumptions about someone's right to work in the UK based on their appearance, background or accent. The key to ensuring legal compliance is to treat every potential new employee the same i.e. ask everyone for the relevant documentation and if they can't provide it then they can't be employed. The Home Office have devised a 3 step process to help employers ensure compliance, which can be summarised as follows: Step 1 Ask for original documentation before an individual starts work (ideally at interview stage). The individual must provide one of the single documents, or specified combinations of documents from List A or List B from the Home Office Summary Guide e.g. passport or a combination of full birth certificate and proof of National Insurance Number. All documentation has to be original. It's important to know what is acceptable and what is not. For example an abbreviated/shortened birth certificate is not acceptable as it must be a full birth certificate. Step 2 Check that the documentation thoroughly: Is it genuine? Does the photo match the appearance of the individual? Is the DOB consistent with the appearance of the individual? Ensure expiry dates have not passed. Check endorsements that may limit the type of work they can do. Ask for further supporting documentation if names are not consistent e.g. marriage/divorce certificate. Step 3 In order to demonstrate that the documentation has been inspected it must also be photocopied or scanned. This is not as simple as it sounds, for example when copying a passport it is not just the details page that must be copied but also the outside front cover. Ideally all copies should be signed and dated by whoever checked the original documents. The copies should be kept for the duration of employment plus an additional 2 years. This is of course a very simplified shortened version of a complex process. In order to avoid a potential £10,000 fine employers should familiarise themselves with the Home Office Summary Guide to remain compliant. Even after reading the guide, right to work documentation can seem like a minefield, however, at Solve. we have years of experience and are happy to help with any Right to Work issues you may have. Contact Tracey on 0131 300 0433

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