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  • Sally Brandon

How do I check if my employee is eligible to work in the UK?

You could face a civil penalty if you employ an illegal worker and have not carried out a correct right to work check. These penalties include up to 5 years in jail and / or a maximum £20,000 fine.

Illegal workers include:

  • people that did not have leave (permission) to enter or remain in the UK

  • people whose leave to enter or remain in the UK has expired

  • students with expired visas, or students working more hours than they're allowed to

  • people on a visitor's visa

  • people doing certain types of work that is not listed on their visa

  • people with false or incorrect papers

Employing an illegal worker: penalties

If you are caught employing an illegal worker you will receive a 'referral notice' to let you know that:

  • your case is being considered

  • you may have to pay fine of up to £20,000 (also known as a civil penalty) for each illegal worker

  • up to 5 years in jail

So I have written this guide to advise employers on how to conduct a right to work check and set out the specific actions you should take to ensure you are not employing an illegal worker which carries a large fine.

This guidance applies to right to work checks conducted on or after 26 January 2023.

There are a number of ways of checking that the employee you want to hire has the legal right to work in the uk.

If the employee is British Citizen they can prove your right to work in the UK with either of the following:

  • a British passport

  • an Irish passport or passport card

If they don’t have a passport or passport card, they can prove your right to work with one of the following:

  • a UK birth or adoption certificate

  • an Irish birth or adoption certificate

  • a certificate of registration or naturalisation as a British citizen

They must also give you an official letter or document from a previous employer or a government agency.

For example, they could use a letter from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) or the Social Security Agency in Northern Ireland.

The employee may be able to use an online identity service provider (IDSP) to prove their right to work if you provide access to this service.

If they are not a British or Irish citizen

If your employee is not a British or Irish citizen, you can prove their right to work with:

  • a share code - (see link below on how your employee can apply for a share code)

  • immigration documents

You can usually prove your right to work in the UK with one of the following:

  • a current passport with a Home Office ‘endorsement’ in it

  • an immigration status document

  • an application registration card

Your employe can get a sharecode if they have:

  • a biometric residence card or permit

  • settled or pre-settled status

  • applied for a visa or settled or pre-settled status and used the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document on your phone

Your employee can apply for a share code online using this link.

Once the employee has a sharecode they must pass it to you and confirm their date of birth. You can then check their eligibility to work in the UK using this link

Make sure you see original copies of any documentation your employee is providing rather than a photograph or a scan of the document.

Once the checks are complete and you are satisfied that the employee is not an illegal worker, take copies that cannot be altered (photocopy / scan / photo) initial / sign it, date it and keep it in the employee file so you can show that you checked their eligibility if ever asked.

If you need further support drop me a line to see how Minerva HR Consulting can help.

To keep up to date with HR news subscribe to the Minerva HR Newsletter

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