How do you make sure that job applicants have the right to work in the UK? This can be a confusing subject and the official Home Office guidelines use some strange terminology so I have tried to give you the basics in a straightforward way.

As an employer you are obliged to check, before you take someone on, that they are entitled to work here. If you don’t do this, and retain evidence of what you checked and when, you can end up being fined up to £20,000 or even imprisoned. Make sure that whatever you do is done routinely to all applicants to avoid any allegations of discrimination.
The best way to do this is to ask everyone who is invited to an interview to bring their passport and birth certificate with them. Have a look at their documents-you MUST see the originals and do so in their presence. If they were born in the UK, just photocopy the birth certificate-as long as it’s a full one, not the short version-and keep it on file if you employ them, destroy it if you don’t.

If they were not born in the UK, but hold a passport from any European Economic Area (EEA) country then they have a right to live and work here. If you decide to employ them you don’t need to do any follow up checks but you must retain a clear copy of what you saw when they started.

If they are from a country outside the EEA have a look inside their passport as any stamp (the Home Office call them ‘vignettes’) or visa’s/ letters which give permission for them to work here may be inside it. Also ask to see their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which contains all the necessary information. The BRP started being rolled out in April 2015 and should have been issued to everyone entitled to hold them by July but we understand this may not yet have happened. If they cannot provide any evidence that they can work here you are taking a serious risk if you employ them. Once you employ them you need to check their documents annually.

If you see and retain a copy of evidence of the right to work here and do the necessary follow up checks, you have what is a called a ‘statutory excuse against a civil penalty’ if they do turn out to be here illegally. Check the documents carefully but you are not expected to go beyond that –some forgeries can be very clever.

The Home Office offer a document checking service if you have any concerns. You can get more details from their web site where you will find ‘An employers’ guide to right to work checks’ which is detailed and comprehensive along with other useful guidance documents. There are also online interactive tools to help you understand what documents are valid depending where an applicant is from.

If you want advice on getting a safe recruitment procedure set up please give us a call on 0161 850 1122

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