Can Employers Conduct Right to Work Checks on Temporary Workers?

This guide explains what employers must do to prevent illegal work in the UK by carrying out checks on people's right to work before hiring them to do so. Labor law states that every new employee must be subject to right-to-work (RTW) controls. This is to ensure that a person has the correct documents to work legally in the UK. Of course, it's particularly important if you're hiring from abroad.

The guide was updated to provide more guidance to employers on verifying the right to work of EEA and Swiss nationals during the grace period (January 1 to June 30, 2002). If the follow-up check reveals that the application has been rejected and the worker has lost the right to work, the guide states that the employer must take steps to prevent illegal employment, which would generally entail the termination of the contract. While employers are not expected to be experts in identifying fraudulent documents, they are required to reject any document when it is “reasonably evident” that it is fraudulent or does not belong to the person in front of them. If the potential employee is a foreign citizen with a biometric work or residence permit, the right to work of these people can only be proven online.

Online checks can be performed via video call and there is no need to view physical documents, as information is accessed directly from the Ministry of the Interior. If an employer is found to have failed in their responsibility to perform a right to work verification, HMRC will impose a penalty notice on them. To manually verify the right to work, employers will have to verify the original documents with the presence of the worker, as set out in the United Kingdom's right to work checklist for visas and immigrants. They may also be sentenced to two years in jail and paid an unlimited fine if they are convicted of hiring a person they had “reasonable reason to believe” had no right to work in the UK.

Therefore, it is crucial that employers carry out controls in compliance with the right to work before the worker starts working. While the system was open, employers were allowed to perform document checks remotely using video calls, and applicants submitted their documentation electronically instead of submitting it in the original format. Right to work verification is a Home Office process that states that every employee or casual worker has the right to work in the UK before starting work. Currently, digital checks using IDPs are only available to holders of valid British or Irish passports or Irish passport cards.

Right to work checks must be carried out in relation to all potential employees, regardless of their nationality or ethnic origin, before they start working. During the pandemic, the Ministry of the Interior introduced tight temporary right-to-work controls, which made it possible for employers to check photographs or scanned copies of identification documents instead of having access to physical documents. You only need to use this service if you can't check online an applicant's right-to-work status with your shared code or check their original documents.

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