What are Right to Work checks?
Right to Work checks can be carried out manually or online.
Manual Right to Work checks
The manual approach requires three key steps to be taken:
- Obtain original acceptable documents
- Check the validity of the documents in the presence of the prospective employee
- Copy the documents and add a date of when the Right to Work check was carried out – these should then be retained for safekeeping.
The full list of acceptable documents can be found in the Home Office’s Right to Work check guidance (list A and B in Annex A). The employer must properly check the documents provided, including verifying the photographs match the individual, dates correlate and have not expired, the documents appear genuine, and any name changes can be explained with evidence.
The process of Right to Work checks may seem straightforward. However, careful planning and training are required to ensure they are consistently carried out to the necessary standard. After all, even a single failure to carry out a check properly may lead to harsh penalties.
Online Right to Work checks
Online Right to Work checks can be carried out using a service provided by the UK Home Office. The ‘View a job applicant’s Right to Work details’ webpage can be used to verify the right to work of any individual who has a biometric residence permit or residence card or has the right to stay under the EU Settlement Scheme. The Right to Work steps is the same for the online and manual methods.
What are the penalties for not carrying out proper Right to Work checks?
Employers found to have employed an individual without conducting the necessary Right to Work checks may face civil and/or criminal penalties. Under the illegal working provisions of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 penalties will depend on a range of factors including whether you have a statutory excuse (where you have proof you completed the Right to Work checks), whether the breach occurred in the last three years, whether the breach was the second or subsequent occurrence, and the existence of any mitigating factors. Mitigating factors may decrease the penalty incurred. The starting point for a first breach is £15,000 and for any subsequent breach is £20,000. If the three mitigating factors can be established, then the Home Office may only issue a warning notice.
If your business is suspected or has been fined for not carrying out valid Right to Work checks, it is important to cooperate fully with the Home Office. By demonstrating that you do meet the criteria for the mitigating factors, a fine can be significantly reduced or avoided.
The immigration law team at RVS Solicitors are well versed in assisting employers who have fallen foul of the Home Office’s Right to Work requirements. Our immigration Solicitors will provide clear guidance on the best approach to minimise or remove the impact of potential civil or criminal penalties. In addition, we will carry out compliance checks and make recommendations to improve your HR processes. This will mitigate the chance of further breaches. We understand that sometimes not all processes are carried out as intended and will actively seek to protect your interests.