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Modernising “right to work” checks

BY Miranda Hughes
Employment Law & HR

The Home Office have officially gone live with their online Right to Work Checking Service. This gives employers access to real-time information about an individual’s right to work. Although the online system was launched last year, employers were still required to request paper documents alongside the service.

From 28th January 2019, an update to this service will allow employers to rely on the online service alone to prove they have conducted the necessary right to work checks. This will also allow them to avoid a penalty if found to be employing illegal workers provided that:

  • The online check confirms that the employee is allowed to work in the UK and perform the work in question

  • The employer satisfies itself that any photograph on the online right to work check is of the employee

  • They retain a copy of the online check for at least two years after the employment ends

  • If the employee is a student, that they obtain and retain details of the term and vacation dates of the person’s course of study

Individuals will be able to demonstrate their right to work using the existing document checking service or the online checking service. They will also be able to authorise their current or prospective employer to see information about their immigration status to conduct the check by providing them with a “share code” to access the record.

The online checking service can be used by non-EEA nationals who hold biometric residence permits or biometric residence cards and EEA nationals who have been granted settled status. EEA national who have not been granted settled status will still need to demonstrate their right to work through the appropriate documents.

The changes will also enable UK nationals to use short birth or adoption certificates, which they can obtain for free, to demonstrate their citizenship. Previously, this has been restricted to the long versions.

If you are unsure of the new system or have any questions on a prospective employee’s right to work in the UK, you can contact your dedicated LAW employment solicitor for further advice.

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