Your Right to Work obligations as an employer

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As an employer you have a responsibility to prevent illegal working. Eliminating illegal working is essential to the economy, illegal working reduces the wages of lawful workers, and often breaches the national minimum wage requirement. It is also linked to tax evasion, exploitative working conditions and modern slavery. The UK government have put in place checks to ensure that all companies are only employing legal staff, to protect the economy and ensure that all workers get a fair deal.

Employing illegal workers could result in a fine, civil proceedings and the removal of illegal staff; causing reputational damage and disruption, putting your health and safety practices at risk, as well as invalidate your insurance.

If you are found to have employed an illegal worker, the penalties may include fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker, a criminal conviction including a prison sentence of up to 5 years and an unlimited fine, closure of the business, disqualification of directorship, seizure of earnings and possible removal of alcohol or taxi licenses. In addition, illegal workers themselves may be prosecuted and imprisoned for up to 6 months.

Right to Work checks ensure that the worker is not subject to immigration control, is over the age of 16, and has the current right to enter and remain in the UK. If the check is carried out according to government guidelines, employers have a statutory excuse against liability for civil penalty.

The check involves three stages: Obtain, Check and Copy.

Obtaining original documents which prove the workers identity, this might include a passport, a birth certificate or a current Immigration Status Document issued by the Home Office, is the first stage. The check stage involves verifying that the documents are genuine. The third stage includes retaining evidence of every document checked, by making a copy of the documents and recording the date on which the check was made. The current legislation of Right to Work checks is detailed in an extensive 40-page Home Office document.

Right to Work checks are relatively straightforward, however the consequences for getting things wrong are severe. Ensure that staff carrying out Right to Work checks are properly trained to prevent mistakes. Using a specialist screening company will ensure that your Right to Work checks are carried out correctly and comply to government guidelines.