Failing to comply with ‘right to work’ checks could prove costly, especially with the introduction of tougher penalties and sanctions.

I came across a blog recently and thought it was a good time to remind you of your responsibilities in the right to work area

Last summer, the Home Office introduced harsher punishments – from increased prison sentences, to ‘on the spot’ closures – for companies unable to meet the strict provisions of the new Immigration Act 2016.

Whether an organisation is caught intentionally using illegal workers, or has broken the law innocently for failing to have their paperwork in order, the consequences could be dear.

Right to work checks

Employers must carry out the appropriate right to work checks on all new starters before they begin work. They should make sure they see a combination of original documents that prove the person’s identity and their right to work, before working.

Such documents include an original, valid passport, plus an original biometric residence permit from the Home Office (if required), providing evidence of that person’s conditions of their stay (including any limitations to their work). The Home Office ‘Prevention of illegal working’ guide provides a list of the documents required.

You should make copies of these documents, date them and certify them internally as true copies.

A valid EU passport or national identity card is sufficient for an EU worker to work in the UK (apart from Croatians, who need work permission). Non-EU workers require a secondary form of evidence, such as a valid UK visa (endorsed in their passport), or a residence permit stating their conditions of stay.

Non-EU students are limited to the number of hours they can work – for example, 20 hours during term time – and employers must have evidence of them studying and vacation timetables from the institution.

The government’s guidance on examining identity documents helps to minimise the chances of employing an illegal worker, such as checking the quality of paper, handwritten alterations and substituted photographs, while all photos and their date of birth should be consistent across documents.

Tougher penalties

Failing to have the correct documentation readily available during a Home Office ‘spot’ check could lead to closure of premises for up to 48 hours. If the employer can prove it has conducted the appropriate checks , the ‘closure notice’ may be cancelled. Where it cannot, the business may be placed under special compliance requirements, including a period of continued closure, and could face a fine of up to £20,000 per illegal worker.

The government ‘names and shames’ fined employers on its website, for example this link, and the maximum prison sentence for guilty employers has increased from two to five years. Those caught working illegally could also face a custodial sentence of up to six months, and have their wages seized.

Sponsor compliance

Employers that hold a sponsor licence to employ a non-EU worker have additional obligations

Whether the company is an employer or sponsor, it is important to check that there is a robust data logging system in place, to ensure your organisation is always compliant when the authorities come knocking on the door.

For help and guidance in the area of rights to work contact me on 020 3640 7748 or from this link >>>