Right to Work in the UK

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Hannah Williamson

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12 Mar 2021

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Following the UK’s departure from the EU, you may wonder how to check if a job applicant has the right to work in the UK.

Failing to do so could lead to one of your employees suddenly being unable to work, leaving you unexpectedly in the lurch. To make things worse, you could be criminally liable.

In this article, we’ll take a look at all the factors you need to consider. Plus, we’ll provide a comprehensive checklist of all the actions you should take before employing someone from a foreign country.

What is the right to work in the UK?

It’s as simple as it sounds. Those with a full right to work in the UK can do so without a visa or work permit. Those who aren’t eligible can still work in the UK, but they must go through a few more steps before they can do so.

Who has the right to work in the UK?

This is a complex question, so let’s break it down.

First, if the employee falls into one of the categories above, they have the permanent right to work in the UK. However, even this has its stipulations. Before you employ anyone, you must check their right to work in the UK.

One way of doing this for EEA and Swiss citizens is to check their passport or National Identity Card. You can still do this—until 30 June 2021.

New immigration rules are now in place for those coming outside of the UK that were not here by 31 December 2020.

If the employee doesn’t fall into one of the already established categories, They will not have the right to work here at all – temporary work visas still need to be gotten for temporary work. Here, they must produce documents that prove this is the case.

The key to the right to work in the UK is evidence. In this next section, we’ll look at what is, and isn’t, permissible for both groups.

Required evidence of the right to work in the UK

Before we look at the documents required for right to work in the UK, a quick note:

We split this list into two sections—permanent right, and temporary right—check which one applies to your situation.

We base the following right to work in the UK documentation list on the latest government guidelines.

Documents for the right to work in the UK – permanently

  • A passport that proves candidate is a British citizen or citizen of the UK and Colonies
  • A passport or national identity card showing the candidate is, or is the child of, a national of the EEA or Switzerland
  • A Registration Certificate or Document Certifying Permanent Residence issued by the Home Office
  • A Permanent Residence Card issued by the Home Office to the family member of a national of an EEA country or Switzerland
  • A current Biometric Immigration Document issued by the Home Office
  • A current passport endorsed to show the holder is exempt from immigration control, os allowed to stay indefinitely in the UK, has the right of abode in the UK, or has no time limit on their stay in the UK
  • A current Immigration Status Document issued by the Home Office with an endorsement saying they can stay indefinitely in the UK, together with an official document giving the person’s permanent NI number and their name
  • A birth or adoption certificate issued in the UK together with an official document giving the person’s permanent NI number and their name
  • A birth or adoption certificate issues in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Ireland together with an official document giving the person’s permanent NI number and their name
  • A certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen, together with an official document giving the person’s permanent NI number and their name

Documents to prove the right to work in the UK – temporarily

  • A current passport endorsed to show that the holder is allowed to stay in the UK and is currently allowed to do the type of work the role requires
  • A current Biometric Immigration Document issued by the Home Office to the holder
  • A current Residence Card issued by the Home Office to a non-EEA national who is a family member of a EEA national or Switzerland who has a derivative right of residence
  • A current Immigration Status Document containing photograph issued by the Home Office to the individual with a valid endorsement together with an official document giving the person’s permanent NI number and their name
  • A Certificate of Application issued by the Home Office to a family member of a national of a EEA country or Switzerland stating the individual is permitted to take employment together with a Positive Verification Notice from the Home Office Employer Checking Service
  • An Application Registration Card issued by the Home Office stating that the individual is permitted to work the role you require together with a Positive Verification Notice from the Home Office Employer Checking Service
  • A Positive Verification Notice issued by the Home Office Employer Checking Service to you, showing the individual may stay in the UK and take on the role

These are all of the acceptable documents for right to work in the UK. If you fail to get any of these and still employ the individual, you’ll be employing them illegally and will be at risk of severe penalties, criminal conviction and business closure.

Right to work in the UK checklist 

So, now you know who you can employ and the documents/evidence that give them the right to work in the UK.

 We’ll provide a step-by-step checklist of the process for you to refer to.

  1. Obtain documents needed in list above
  2. Check the documents are genuine
  3. Check that the documents are accurate and belong to the candidate
  4. Check that the documents allow the candidate to perform the work you are offering
  5. Make a clear copy of each document in a format that cannot be manually altered
  6. Retain a secure copy
  7. Retain a copy of the date you made all the above checks
  8. Proceed with the recruitment/hiring process

If you’re concerned about how to keep such sensitive documents secure, you should look at Croner’s software solutions.

Expert support

How to approach this issue depends on your current circumstances. Employment and immigration law is liable to change, both this year, and further in the future. This means you need to stay vigilant.

If you need further right to work in the UK guidance, Croner can provide it. Whether you need help managing documentation, support through the recruitment process, or just have further questions, you can get this from an expert HR and employment law adviser. Speak to one of our team today on 01455 858 132

About the Author

Hannah Williamson is a CIPD Qualified HR professional with over 10 years’ experience in generalist HR management working within the Manufacturing Industry.

Working for a Global manufacturer provided Hannah with the opportunity to work in America and across Europe supporting HR functions and the wider business.

Hannah is Croner’s Advice Manager, taking responsibility for overseeing the provision of advice to all Croner clients, bringing together our Corporate, Simplify and Association service provisions.

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