UK Immigration Update: Right to Work Checks for Employers

This month, the UK Home Office published ‘An employer’s guide to right to work checks‘ guidance. The checks stated in the guide were implemented on 16 May 2015 and failure to comply may result in a hefty fine for UK employers. 

We have reported on many businesses up and down the UK that have been exposed for employing illegal workers. Last year the UK Government toughened the UK Immigration Rules by raising civil penalties for businesses employing illegal migrants to £20,000 per person. Illegal working often results in exploitative behaviour, poor pay, migrants being mistreated, tax evasion and poor housing conditions. It can also undercut legitimate businesses and puts individuals who are living in the UK lawfully and looking for jobs at a disadvantage. There have been some changes to the document checks employers are required to undertake. Please see below for a summary of the changes:

Summary of Changes to Right to Work Checks Documents

  1. Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs): Firstly, Migrant workers (non-EEA nationals) who have been granted the right to work in the UK will have a sticker placed in their passport, which enables them to enter the UK within 30 days of being issued. Once they have entered the UK they have 10 days to collect their BRP. This BRP will suffice as one of the new documents that the UK employer must acquire to ensure they are complying with the Home Office requirements.
  2. Residence Cards: Are now taking the format of BRPs. Residence Cards are issued to non-EEA nationals who are settled or settling in the UK with an EEA family member. Previously, Residence Cards were stickers placed in passports, although the guidance has stated that these are still accepted and have given examples.
  3. Administrative reviews: This has replaced many rights of appeal against immigration decisions.
  4. Certificate of Application: These will be issued to non EEA family members of EEA nationals following the introduction of biometric residence card.

UK Immigration Compliance Solicitors

Under section 15 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, an employer may be liable for a civil penalty if they employ someone who does not have the right to undertake the work in question. Employers have a duty to prevent illegal working in the UK by carrying out prescribed document checks on people before employing them to ensure they are lawfully allowed to work. These checks should be repeated in respect of those who have time-limed permission to work in the UK.

UK Businesses must ensure that they have the appropriate checks in place, can demonstrate that they will be able to meet their employers duties and have the appropriate records for their skilled workers. The Home Office carry out spontaneous checks on organisations on a regular basis and on such visits will expect to examine those areas of Human Resources and procedures which are outlined in their guidance. They will also verify the information provided by employer’s on their application for obtaining the sponsorship licence.

Immigration Legal Advice for UK Employers & Illegal Workers

If you are a UK business and have been affected by the Home Office’s raids, contact us to discuss this further. Business owners sponsoring migrants from outside the EEA must ensure that they are legally registered to sponsor migrants and must have a valid Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence. If the Home Office has contacted you in relation to carrying out a compliance visit at your business premises, contact us for legal advice.

Illegal migrants with strong Human Rights arguments ought to take legal advice and regularise their stay in the UK as soon as possible and before it is too late. Contact us to discuss your immigration situation and we will assess your case and provide you with options of regularising your stay

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