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Document updated/added on 24.12.2020

Topic: Recruitment

right to work checklist
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Right to work checklist

Right to work checklist

Don’t risk a £20,000 civil penalty for employing an illegal worker. Check all new employees’ right to work in the UK before they start work for you using our checklist, record the date of your check and take copies of the relevant documents (or keep a clear copy of the response if you used the Home Office online right to work checking service).

An expensive oversight

The maximum civil penalty for employing illegal workers as a result of negligent recruitment and employment practices is £20,000 per illegal worker. So it’s essential that you conduct right to work checks on all new employees before they start working for you, even if they claim to be British. Indeed, being selective in your checks can, of itself, amount to race discrimination. If you do conduct the prescribed right to work checks, you’ll have a statutory excuse to avoid payment of the civil penalty. In addition to the civil penalty, it’s a criminal offence for you to employ an illegal worker where either you know or have reasonable cause to believe that they are disqualified from employment by reason of their immigration status. Conviction on indictment carries a maximum five-year prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine and the statutory excuse won’t apply here.

A three-step process

There are three steps you need to go through to carry out a manual right to work check:

  1. Obtain acceptable original documents showing a right to work in the UK - the List A and List B documents.
  2. Check the validity of the documents - in the presence of the holder - you must satisfy yourself that the documents are genuine and that the person presenting them is the rightful holder and allowed to do the type of work you are offering.
  3. Take and retain a clear copy of the documents in a format which cannot be altered and keep a contemporaneous record of the date the check was made.

Our Right to Work Checklist guides you through these three steps, advising you what you need to do at each stage and enabling you to record your findings. Once completed, you can place it on the employee’s personnel file, along with the copied documents. Keep them for the duration of employment and for two years after employment has ceased. Alternatively, you may be able to conduct an online check using the Home Office online right to work checking service and our checklist also covers what you need to do at each stage there. Retain a clear copy of the response provided by the online right to work check for the duration of employment and for two years afterwards.

The statutory excuse

Finally, you need to be aware of the type of statutory excuse you have and for how long it’s valid - this will depend on whether the worker supplied you with List A or List B documents. Documents provided from List A establish that the person has a permanent entitlement to live and work in the UK and the excuse is valid for the full duration of their employment. List B contains the range of documents which may be accepted for checking purposes for an individual who has a temporary right to work in the UK. With List B documents, you will only establish a time-limited statutory excuse and you will be required to carry out a follow-up right to work check. Our checklist therefore enables you to record when you need to carry out that follow-up check. In the case of an online right to work check, the response will confirm the period for which the employee is permitted to carry out the work in question and hence whether you only have a time-limited statutory excuse.


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