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Right to work changes and increased penalties: Act now to ensure you are looking at the right documents
In May 2014 the maximum civil penalty that employers can receive for employing someone without the right to work increased from £10,000 to £20,000 per illegal worker. It is therefore even more important that employers ensure that all their employees have the right to work in the UK and that the process and list of acceptable documents is updated without delay.

To avoid any potential claims of discrimination, the new code of practice published by the Home Office emphasises that checks should be made on ALL job candidates. The checks also have to be completed BEFORE the individual starts working for you.

The checks themselves have also changed, particularly in relation to their timing and the records that must be kept. The list of acceptable documents has been significantly reduced and employers no longer need to examine documents annually for those people with a limited right to stay and work in the UK. Instead they are required to ensure that documents are checked before the date of expiry, so placing a greater reliance on making sure those dates are put in the diary!

It is now compulsory for the employer to make a record of the date on which a check was conducted. If no date for the check is recorded, it cannot be used to establish a defence.

If you employ migrant students you will now have to obtain evidence of the term dates for their courses, which may be different from those of the institution itself.

The Home Office provides a service that allows employers to check if applications for an extension of the leave to remain and work in the UK have been submitted and/ or whether there are any appeals outstanding. Confirmation from this service may provide an extension of 6 months whilst the case is decided. This is a reduction from the previous period of 12 months.

If as an employer you have acquired new staff as a result of a TUPE transfer, you now have 60 days following a transfer to conduct initial checks on any staff that have transferred to you. Don’t forget to include this as part of your transfer plan.

What do I need to do? Act now to ensure that your list of acceptable documents required from employees is updated and that you have audited the expiry dates on those with a limited right to remain and work in the UK. The Home Office provides further guidance, but contact Cherington HR if you would like help or advice updating your procedures and documentation.
Posted on 19 Nov 2016

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