New Updates to Legislation Designed to Improve Right to Work Verification for Lawful Residents

Ms Caroline Nokes, The UK Minister of State for Immigration, advised of a number of changes to The Immigration (Restrictions on Employment) (Code of Practice and Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2018 (the UK legislation encompassing “Right to Work”) in a written statement to parliament on December 13th 2018 last.

Ms Nokes opened by advising that “the Government is committed to making it easier for lawful residents to demonstrate their right to work in the UK, and to strengthening the support we provide to employers when complying with the provisions in the Immigration Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 to avoid employing illegal workers.”

She went on to advise of a new online service that enables UK employers to check the current right to work, in real time, of a person who holds either a biometric residence permit or a biometric residence card, and to see whether the person is subject to any restrictions. This service applies to Non EU workers with Biometric Residence Permit cards or BRC cards and EU citizens who have applied and granted for settled status in the UK  from March 2019.

The amendment to the Immigration Order 2018 and the Illegal Working Compliance Orders Regulations 2016, are due to come into effect on the 28th January 2019 next.

The legal amendments presented to parliament state, that in order for an employer to meet ‘Right to Work’ compliance regulation and to be excused from paying a civil penalty, they need to ensure they follow the below steps when using the Home Office online right to work checking service:

a)   The employer uses the Home Office online right to work checking service in respect of an employee

b)  The online right to work check confirms that the employee named in it is allowed to work in the United Kingdom and is allowed to do the work in question

c)   The employer has satisfied himself that any photograph on the online right to work check is of the employee

d)  The employer retains a clear copy of the online right to work check for a period of not less than two years after the employment has come to an end

The Home Office’s Online right to work checking service acts in addition to the existing tools that UK employers can use to ensure employees have a legal right to work in the UK (like NorthRow’s Right to Work application).

The following represents some of the key points from her statement:

  • The service only covers verification of a residence permit, and the conditions granted and it does not provide checks for other types of document

  • Employers will still need to carry out verification of UK citizens’ documents (the largest percentage of all employees)

“We have worked closely with UK employers and with users of the service in developing this new system, which has been operating effectively to provide employers and migrants with additional assurance where used to support right to work checks.” advised Nokes.

She also advised of a revised code of practice, which provides that employers will be able to rely on an online check from the end of January 2019, where a prospective employee has an immigration status that is compatible with the online checking service (holders of biometric residence permits or cards, and those with online immigration status).

From the end of January 2019, employers will be able to request either the online check or the existing document-based check; online checks will,  therefore, be a voluntary option whilst migrants and employers develop familiarity with the new service and take up becomes more prevalent.

Even if you have carried out a check online to meet your legal obligations, you must:

  1. Check that this looks like the person you meet face-to-face

  2. Keep a copy of their original document

  3. Do this check again when the visa expires

In practice an organisation must still confirm the identity of the individual ‘in person’ against the information held on the online Right to Work check service;  as well as having to access the online record using the candidate’s sharing code; log the date when the identity check was completed; and retain a print out from the Home Office service for the duration of the individual’s employment plus two years.

NorthRow Right to Work

NorthRow offers a secure app to verify documents and to help guide employers through the Right to Work process, producing an audit trail that can be used as evidence.

The NorthRow application allows clients to check and to securely retain an employee’s documentation, whilst confirming that an individual is eligible to work in the UK via real-time ‘Right to Work’ checks. All check results are stored in a secure online platform, alongside copies of all document scans, expiry dates, visa categories and the identity of the person who performed the check. These form a comprehensive record and audit trail, proving the company has fulfilled its obligations to UK Visas and Immigration and achieved its ‘statutory excuse’. This information is instantly accessible by central HR.

“Digitally checking documentation acts as a deterrent helping to reduce the risks of prospective employees without the correct right to work credentials from applying in the first place. We currently support clients in industries as diverse as the hospitality sector to the recruitment industry helping them to ensure compliance”.
Adrian Black, CEO and Founder of NorthRow