Understanding right to work checks

Tags: Right to work, Secure Search, blog...

When conducting a pre-employment background check, employers are legally required to check an individual’s right to work in the UK. Failure to conduct accurate and thorough right to work checks could result in costly fines and penalties for businesses across the UK.

For this reason, we launched our Secure Search pre-employment screening service which provides a detailed insight about a new hire to give employers the insight they need to make an informed hiring decision.

Find out more about Secure Search

Read our blog to find out what a right to work check should entail and how we can help you manage risk and improve your overall recruitment process.


An overview of work checks for UK companies

All employers in the UK have a responsibility to prevent illegal working, and this can be achieved through conducting simple right to work checks before appointing a new employee. Right to work checks are aimed to help employers determine whether the individual in question is eligible to carry out the work or contract by reason of their immigration status.

While some individuals are automatically entitled to work in the UK, others may have restrictions on their eligibility to work, how long they can work in the UK and what type of work they can do. Furthermore, we may see more change in these laws following Brexit.

Right to work checks establish a candidate’s right to work in the UK and the conditions and hours under which they are allowed to work.

Right to work checks must be conducted face-to-face, with original documentation required and strictly policed by the UK Border Agency. An employer is not only  required to complete the right to work check before appointing a new hire, but also keep track of the correct combination of approved documents and perform follow-up checks for employees with time-limited permission to work in the UK.

The home office recently updated the right to work guidelines for UK employers, which can be found here.


The legal obligations of UK employers when they conduct right to work checks

Every employer has the legal obligation to establish, confirm and record the right to work of all employees and contractors. Failing to carry out thorough and accurate right to work checks can result in fines of approximately £20,000 per incident and in more severe cases, could result in imprisonment.

The Home Office has set specific rules for right to work checks that a company must follow before employing a candidate, which are as follows:

  • View the candidate’s original documents
  • Check to ensure the documents are valid with the candidate present
  • Make and keep copies of the documents and record the date the check was made

Documentation forgery is often committed through an array of sophisticated means and methods, and it can be easy to mistake fake documents for the real thing. For this reason, our Secure Search document validation solution checks and verifies Passports, ID Cards and Residents Permits from over 230 sources from around the world.                                     



As such, the documentation we process also undergoes a rigorous automated document check and scoring process, after which we are able to determine the documents submitted are valid and legitimate.








Steps employers in the UK should take when checking right to work documentation

A UK employer must thoroughly examine the right to work documents on two different lists: A and List B. The Home Office has published the Right to Work Guide to Acceptable Documents, which provides information about the documents which are acceptable for companies to check to establish a candidate’s right to work.

List A contains documents which a business can accept for a person who has permanent right to work in the UK. If the right to work check is done correctly before employment begins, they will establish a continuous statutory excuse for the duration of that person’s employment with no further checks needed.

List B contains documents which may be accepted by a person who has a temporary right to work in the UK. Companies will be required to conduct a follow-up check to retain the statutory excuse.

The Home Office also lists the following requirements when inspecting the documents in person:

  • The documents need to be genuine, original and unchanged and belong to the person who has given them to you
  • The dates for the applicant’s Right to Work in the UK haven’t expired
  • Photos are the same across all documents and look like the applicant
  • Dates of birth are the same across all documents
  • The applicant has permission to do the type of work the company is offering (including any limitations on the number of hours they can work


Choose Secure Search to execute your right to work checks before hiring

Our right to work checks form part of our comprehensive background screening programme known as Secure Search, which verifies documentation, guides employers on best practice and complements their own investigations to ensure that employees have the legal right to work in the UK.

Secure Search pre-employment screening checks can include a combination of the following:

  • Eligibility to Work Verification
  • Criminal Checks
  • Employment Verification
  • Passport/visa checking
  • Basic, Standard and Enhanced Disclosure
  • Employment gap verification
  • Adverse financial summary
  • Global sanctions check
  • DVLA report
  • Academic qualification checks
  • Professional membership verification
  • Directorship search
  • Identity verification
  •  International checks

A range of Secure Search screening packages are available depending on your business’s requirements. To find out more, contact Donna Turner on donna.turner@search.co.uk