UK rules around illegal working changed in April 2022, and some employees can now only have their right to work in the UK checked electronically. Before that date, employers had a choice of methods for checking; they could ask an applicant to bring in their original passport, check documents on a video call, or use an online portal for workers with certain classes of visa or UK immigration status. This all changed as of 6 April 2022. Employers were previously free to choose which method worked best for them.
April 2022 Changes
A new ruling from the Home Office in April 2022 means that employers no longer have any choice over checking some classes of worker. If the person applying has a BRP (Biometric Residence Permit), a BRC (Biometric Residence Card), a Frontier Worker Permit or has status under the EU settlement scheme, then this status must be verified online.
At the same time, the government removed the possibility of performing identity checks virtually over video call software, a measure which was only ever intended to be temporary during the pandemic.
Many employers preferred the flexibility of being able to check identities and Right to Work online, and a new system of digital checks were also introduced on 6 April. Employees are still asked to upload photographs or scans of their original documents, but no longer are required to produce the originals. Digital identity checks like this can be used for British or Irish nationals, who will not have any immigration record with the Home Office. There is no charge for checking someone’s immigration status in connection with a Right to Work check.
British or Irish nationals can prove their Right to Work in the UK usually by showing their passport which confirms their nationality beyond doubt. If the applicant does not have a passport, then another form of identity is their birth certificate, along with a letter from a government body which states their name and National Insurance number. Someone who has neither their birth certificate nor a passport will not be able to show sufficient proof that they are legally allowed to work in the UK.
Why Do Right to Work Checks?
All workers must prove that they are in the UK legally, and also have the right to work here. Employers who don’t check their staff properly, and are found to be employing illegal workers, face heavy financial penalties. Employers are not allowed to make assumptions about Right to Work based on someone’s appearance or accent, and most will check every new hire, whatever their background.
If someone has the Right to Work in the UK for a limited period only, then the employer should check their status again once the initial time period expires. There are no rules against employing someone who only has the right to stay in the UK for a fixed period, as long as follow up checks are completed, either manually or using the online system.