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Right to work checks

Prior to employment beginning, employers are required to conduct right to work checks to ensure that individuals are legally able to work in the United Kingdom.

As a result of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, the right to work check rules changed on 1 July 2021. Employers need to be aware of these rule changes to avoid the risk of conducting an incorrect check. Where a right to work check is not carried out before employment begins, and the employee is found not to have the right to work, the employer is at risk of being fined up to £20,000 per illegal worker.

Changes from 1 July 2021

From 1 July 2021 EEA citizens (excluding Irish citizens) will no longer be able to provide certain documents (e.g. their passport) for manual right to work checks. If the individual does not have permission under the EU Settlement Scheme, they will generally require permission under one of the other categories of the Immigration Rules.

In most cases, individuals with a right to work under the EU Settlement Scheme should be able to demonstrate this using the Home Office’s online right to work service. Of course, employers also have the option to carry out manual right to work checks.

These changes mean employers need to be up to date on what documents they are required to check for different individuals. It would be advisable for employers to update their internal documentation (such as right to work checklists) to ensure that their staff are enabled to carry out effective right to work checks. Employers need to be aware of these changes as they are easy to miss amongst the various legislative amendments caused by the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. Additionally, these changes also come during the COVID-19 pandemic which increases that chance that employers could be unaware.

Business immigration for employers

Our business immigration team advises on all UK jurisdiction business immigration matters – from Skilled Worker Sponsor Licences to Intra-Company Transfers from international group offices. We provide Right to Work in the UK compliance support, assistance with workforce audits and advice dealing with issues that arise if an employee loses their right to work in the UK or if they have their leave to remain curtailed.

Our solicitors advise on the law of England & Wales, however our firm has widespread international law firm connections and can often assist with project management for international projects – for example, assisting your team with project management matters when you are transferring a senior employee to another international office working with foreign jurisdiction law firms. Please feel free to get in contact with Tim Copplestone.


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