Checking an employee’s right to work in the UK – FAQs

Mar 7, 2016 | Recruitment

Under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, you need to verify that your employees have the right to work in the UK by checking specific documents. But do you know exactly what that entails?
Here are some frequently asked questions about checking workers’ right to work in the UK to help you ensure you’re meeting your obligations.

Whose responsibility is proof of the right to work?

Whilst it is the employee’s responsibility to obtain the right to work, and to provide the employer with the proof required, it is ultimately the employer’s responsibility to ensure that all its workers have the right to work in the UK. If you are found to be employing someone without the right documentation you as an employer will be held responsible.

Can I get candidates to just sign to confirm they have the right to work in the UK?

Sometimes clients ask whether it’s possible to put something either in a job application form or in an employment contract asking candidates or employees to confirm they have the right to work in the UK.
Whilst you could consider putting something in a job application form so that you can immediately filter out any applicants who would not have the right to work here, this would not affect your obligation as an employer to check any employee’s right to work. Asking workers to sign something confirming they have the right to work doesn’t mean you have met your responsibilities, you need to check it yourself.

What documents are acceptable?

There are two lists of documents which are considered acceptable proof of a worker’s right to work in the UK. List A comprises documents which prove an indefinite right to work in the UK, and List B documents which prove a limited right. For List B documents, further checks will be required. This Home Office checklist contains both lists.

Will a photocopy do?

You must have sight of the original document, so a photocopy provided by the worker isn’t good enough.

What else do I need to check?

You need to make sure that the document or documents you are being shown relate to the individual in question and check any restrictions on them such as expiry dates or restrictions on the type of work that can be performed.
You must satisfy yourself that documents are genuine and have not been tampered with. Check that dates of birth match across documents, that photos are of the worker in question and that details are consistent. If there are different names, check that there are reasons for this.
You must then take a copy, keep it in a safe place and record when the check was made. You should keep the copy for the duration of the person’s employment and for two years after the termination of their employment.

Can I let the employee start work before I’ve seen their documentation?

No, you must ensure you have checked their right to work before allowing them to start working for you, it is not acceptable to allow them to start working and provide the documents in due course.
If you already employ or are considering employing foreign workers and would like further advice, do get in touch.