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UK Right to Work: What Employers Need to Know

UK Right to Work: What Employers Need to Know

Within the United Kingdom, employers have a legal responsibility to prevent illegal working from happening, and as part of this, a right to work check is required. An employer will conduct the right to work check prior to employing an individual, to make sure they are eligible to work in their place of hire, and are not unable to carry out their duties due to their immigration status. As illegal working is a key driver contributing to illegal migration - it’s essential right to work checks are carried out, to avoid the exploitation of vulnerable populations, and so that compliant businesses and organizations are not disadvantaged. Detailed guidance on the correct UK right to work process, can be accessed via the government website. In this article, we’ll provide an overview on the current right to work procedures as well as the latest guidance in relation to digital identity. 

The Risks of Getting Right to Work Checks Wrong

It’s important to bear in mind the consequences of getting a right to work check wrong, which could lead to heavy fines and penalties. This could include a fine of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker if the correct procedure is not carried, and worse still, you could be sent to jail for 5 years and face an unlimited fine if you’re found guilty of employing someone you knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ that they did not have the right to work in the UK.  But the risks also extend beyond this and include, criminal liability, sponsor license suspensions, disqualification of directors, business interruption or closure, invalidated insurance, and reputational damage, as the home office publishes details of those subject to civil enforcement action. As a responsible organization, you’ll want to ensure you’re doing everything possible to minimize the risks. 

What is a Statutory Excuse, and Why is this so Important? 

Put simply, a statutory excuse refers to the steps an employer can take to avoid liability for a civil penalty. When an employer carries out a right to work check before employment commences, they’re ensuring a person has the legal right to work for an organization. To establish a statutory excuse and defend your organization against an illegal worker - one of the following checks needs to carried out: 

1) A manual right to work check 

2) A right to work check using an Identity Document Validation Technology* (IDVT) via the services of an Identity Service Provider 

3) A Home office online right to work check

For the latest guidance on how to conduct a right to work check in-house, the UK Government have put together a detailed employers guide, or if you’d prefer to ease the burden on your HR teams, you can simply outsource right to work checks along with any other check across the globe to a trusted and automated screening partner such as Veremark

What are the Latest UK Right to Work Updates?

During the pandemic, temporary measures were introduced that made UK right to work checks easier for employers. These allowed checks to be carried out via online video calling software, and applicants were also able to send scanned documents, or photos via email or a digital app in place of the original documentation. However, from September 30th, 2022, these adjusted checks brought in as the result of COVID-19 come to an end.  In place of these adjusted checks, a new and streamlined way of checking right to work for British and Irish passport holders has been introduced,  through Identity Document Validation Technology* (IDVT) - via the services of an Identity Service Provider. This is a significant step for employers, as it removes the requirement to check documents in-person. 

It’s important to note that face-to-face checking remains for businesses to use. And while the home office recommends the use of a certified IDSP, this is not a legal requirement. Employers using an IDSP do need to check if it is the same person they are employing, and this can be conducted on day one (or before) or they can provide evidence via a video interview (to match the IDSP results with the person's image against the applicant).

Pioneers in the Digital Identity Space 

Veremark are at the forefront of Digital Identity, are not only going live with Digital ID for right to work checks, we’re also harnessing the power of our digital identity technology for DBS checks too! This exciting development, removes the need for any manual double-checking of documents for employers and offers the best candidate experience possible. 

To be in the best position to defend your organization against illegal workers and to avoid the consequences of getting this wrong, the Veremark platform which includes right to work, DBS checks and more, offers a compliant, flexible and scalable approach that has the employer and candidate in mind - speak to our sales team today! 

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