Consequences of Not Conducting a Right to Work Check

As an employer it is your legal responsibility to make sure all your workers have legal right to work in UK. Learn about consequences & how you can avoid them.

Consequences of Not Conducting a Right to Work Check

As an employer, it is your legal responsibility to make sure that all your workers have the legal right to work in the UK. If you don't, you could face hefty fines and legal penalties. Under the current UK law on the right to work, you could be subject to civil fines and serious damage to your reputation. Right to work controls are essential to prevent illegal work.

Failure to meet these requirements can have serious consequences, both for organizations and individuals. Penalties include fines, imprisonment and disqualification. If current employees have limited permission to stay and work, you should be sure to schedule and perform a follow-up check before their current leave period expires. Consequently, you may want to verify that your contractors are properly monitoring the right to work of the people they employ. To find out if you need to request a verification from the ECS and perform that verification, you must use the online tool “Employer Checking Service”.

The first step in carrying out a check is to physically have the original documents available when performing the check, either by physically witnessing the person or via live virtual video, unless using the Ministry of the Interior's online verification service (see below). You should only employ the person (or continue to employ an existing employee, if you are performing a follow-up check) if the online verification confirms that you have the right to work and are not subject to a condition that prevents you from performing the work in question. The Employer's Check Service (ECS) is a free online service from the Ministry of the Interior that allows employers to meet their obligation to verify employees' right to work in circumstances where the person cannot use checks online or provide acceptable documentation for manual checks. To do this, you must carry out simple checks on the right to work before hiring someone, to ensure that the person is not disqualified from doing the job in question due to their immigration status. Temporary measures allow employers to verify the right to work remotely using video calls and allow job seekers to send a photo or scanned documents via email or a mobile application, instead of sending the original documents. The Human Resources department should also carry out regular timely checks of documents to ensure that standards are maintained and to identify any possible problems that need to be addressed.

It is not uncommon for the central human resources function to have developed a system that complies with legislation on the right to work, but in practice, the controls of the right to work carried out at the local level in branches or offices by managers and direct supervisors may not comply with required standards. If you correctly perform right-to-work checks before you start working, you will establish an ongoing legal excuse for the duration of that person's employment with you. Biometric cards have been removed from the lists of acceptable documents used for manually verifying the right to work. As this case concerned only this type of claim, the key point for court consideration was whether the unwanted conduct (in this case, comment on baldness) was related to plaintiff's sex. The law requires employers to prove their right to work in order to fulfill their duty, and they can invoke a legal excuse in case of alleged violations. While this program was open, employers were allowed to perform document checks remotely using video calls, and applicants submitted their documentation electronically instead of in original format.

This guide advises employers how they can perform a right-to-work verification and sets out specific steps they can take in order to avoid liability for civil sanction.