The Right to work in the UK

Do you know how to carry out a ‘right to work in the UK check?

The Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 places a duty on employers to carry out checks to confirm someone’s right to work in the UK before employing them.

Punishments for employing an illegal worker are:

  • £20,000 for each illegal worker employed
  • Up to five years imprisonment for knowingly employing an illegal worker

Some employers may not know the specific checks and check-ups that must be used when employing a new worker:

The ‘Right to work Check’

Employers must carry out a ‘Right to work check’ on a worker before the employment begins to ensure that he or she is legally allowed to work in the UK and do the work in question. This check should be carried out on all employees to maintain accuracy and avoid any discrimination.

The ‘Right to work check’ means that an employer must check that a document, provided by the worker, is acceptable for showing the employee’s permission to work in the UK. There are three key steps to determine the check:

  1. Obtain the original version of one or more of the permitted documents
  2. Check the validity in the presence of the holder (worker)
  3. Take and retain a clear copy of the document in an un-editable format, e.g. PDF / JPEG, and record the date of the check.

These copies must be kept until 2 years after the employment ends.

List A and List B

HMRC provides two lists that show the documents required to prove a worker has the right to work in the UK. List A gives the documents that show the holder has an ongoing right to work in the UK. If an employer checks these correctly, they have an excuse against payment of a civil fine for the duration of that person’s employment.

Alternatively, List B gives documents that show the holder has the right to work in the UK for a limited time only. If an employer checks these correctly, they have an excuse against a civil penalty for a limited time. To retain a statutory excuse, another check must be carried out towards the end of this period.

HMRC’s employers guide to acceptable right to work documents explains list A and list B:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/acceptable-right-to-work-documents-an-employers-guide

HMRC also provide an online interactive tool on checking somebodies right to work in the UK. This should be used when carrying out the checking of documents, if extra clarification is needed:

If you have any questions on the above or would like any more information, please feel free to contact us on 0116 2423400.

Zahra Bates, Payroll Assistant 

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