All employers in the UK have a duty to ensure they comply with legislation in place to prevent illegal working.

You must check basic documentation to verify that every employee has the relevant permission to undertake the work you will employ them to do. Conducting Right to Work (RTW) checks correctly and maintaining a record of those checks will protect you in the event that issues are raised with the immigration or working status of anyone employed by you.

To avoid any potential complaints of unlawful discrimination, a consistent checking process should be applied to all individuals, regardless of race, nationality or ethnicity.

You must do one of the following before the employee commences employment:

  1. a manual right to work check
  2. a right to work check using Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) via the services of an Identity Service Provider (IDSP)
  3. a Home Office online right to work check

Home Office Guidance sets out 3 key steps to completing a compliant manual check. They also provide a useful tool online to check an individual’s eligibility to work in the UK: Check if someone can work in the UK 

Manual Checks

Step 1 – Obtain

Before employment commences obtain original documents from either List A or List B of acceptable documents: Employers’ right to work checklist

Step 2 – Check

  • In the presence of the individual check that the documents are genuine, have not been tampered with and that they belong to the prospective employee in question.
  • Make sure the dates of birth and photographs are consistent across documents.
  • Satisfy yourself that the photograph is that of the person you propose to hire.
  • Make sure expiry dates for permission to be in the UK have not passed.
  • Check for any work restrictions.
  • Make sure you have evidence to support any change in name across documents, for example, original marriage certificate, divorce decree absolute or deed poll. Photocopy and retain a copy of these documents with your check.

Step 3 – Copy

  • Keep a clear copy of each document in a format that cannot be manually altered (e.g. PDF or photocopy) and keep this copy secure. You can choose to keep this electronically or in hard copy format.
  • Record the date on which you made the check.
  • Retain the copies for the duration of employment and a minimum of 2 years after employment.

Temporary COVID-19 adjusted check

Up to and including 30 September 2022, there are temporary adjustments in place to allow for covid-19 restrictions. If you are carrying out a temporary adjusted check, you must:

  • ask the worker to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app
  • arrange a video call with the worker – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents, record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19”

Changes from April 2022

In April 2022 the evidence required for right to work checks has changed for some categories of foreign nationals including holders of:

  • Biometric Residence Card (BRC)
  • Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
  • Frontier Worker Permit (FWP)

A physical card can no longer be used as evidence of right to work. Employers must conduct the relevant checks through the Home Office online service only.

Online Checks

Online checks can be conducted for holders of:

  • Biometric residence permit
  • Biometric resident card
  • Pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • status under the points based immigration system rules or
  • a frontier worker permit

Step 1

The applicant will need to visit the home office website to produce a Share Code: Produce a Share Code. This should be given to you along with their date of birth.

If you are conducting a temporary covid-19 adjusted check as described above, you can conduct this check while doing a video call with the individual.

Step 2

Using the share code you can check the immigration status online: Right to Work Checking Service

Check the photograph on the site – make sure it is reasonably apparent that the photograph displayed belongs to the individual you are checking.

Step 3

Retain a copy of the online profile and record the date on which the check was made. You can choose to keep this electronically or in hard copy format.

Where there is time limited permission granted, you must ensure a follow up check is carried out on or before the expiry date.

Copies should be retained for the duration of employment and a minimum of 2 years after employment.