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Right to Work Checks & Brexit

In March 2020, we saw the long-awaited procedures for the UK leaving the EU finally be put into motion. With a change as big as this, comes repercussions for individuals and employers in regards to legislation and how they look after their business. We all knew Brexit would mean changes but are we all aware of what some of these changes look like in our day-to-day business practices? One of the changes to be aware of is the right-to-work checks, so let's take a look at these in a bit more detail.


What is a right to work check?

Employers must conduct a right-to-work check before employing someone to ensure they are legally permitted to work in the UK. There are two types of right-to-work checks that you should be aware of as an employer, these are manual checks and home office online checks.


1. Manual check – this requires you to do 3 things before employment commences.

  • Obtain original versions of one or more acceptable documents

  • Check the validity of the document in the presence of the holder

  • Make and retain a clear copy of the document and record the date the check was made

2. Home office online check – it’s important to note that online checks are not always possible as not all individuals will have an immigration status that can be checked online. The following list are forms that can be used with the online checking system:

  • Biometric residence permit

  • Biometric residence card

  • Frontier workers permit

  • Status issued under the EU settlement scheme

  • Status issued under the points based immigration system

  • British National overseas visa

By completing either one of the above checks, in line with the Home office guidance, will provide valid evidence that the right-to-work checks have been made. This ensures you have a tick in the box.


What does Brexit mean for EU nationals?


Existing EU national employees:

  • If a business already has EU nationals employed, the correct right to work checks would gave already taken place therefore there is no need to complete further right to work checks.

  • There are 2 types of documents you can accept from a person to demonstrate their right to work. You can find the full detailed list in the government's guide here, but here is a short breakdown of the 2 lists.

List A – contains the range of documents you may accept for a person who has a permanent right to work in the UK. If you conduct the right-to-work checks correctly before employment begins, you will establish a continuous statutory excuse for the duration of that person’s employment with you. You do not have to conduct any further checks on this individual.


List B – contains a range of documents you may accept for a person who has a temporary right to work in the UK. If you conduct the right-to-work checks correctly, you will establish a time-limited statutory excuse. You will be required to conduct a follow-up check in order to retain your statutory excuse. This should be undertaken in the same way as the original check.



Employing EU national employees:

  • Up until the 30th June 2021, EU nationals could have ‘status’ under the Settlement Scheme or the points-based immigration system.

  • Employers should note that they can still take passports and national identity cards as evidence of permission to work during the period up to the 30th of June 2021.

The UK immigration system can be very complex and needs to be taken seriously. It can be quite overwhelming for businesses to ensure they’re following all the correct procedures but failing to do so can result in hefty fines & even a criminal conviction.

If you have any concerns on how you’re managing your right to work checks and if you’re staying compliant, you can seek advice from the Home Office on their employer inquiry helpline 0300 790 6268. Alternatively, you can head over to the Government website and read the Employers Guide here.

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