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Government launches new online 'Right to Work Check' portal

employment lawyers london uk online right to work

The government has launched a new online portal, enabling employers to check their prospective employees’ right to work without processing hard copy documents. The new system is intended to make it 'easier than ever' for employers to ensure all employees are legally permitted to work in the UK.

It is a legal requirement in the UK for all employers to carry out ‘right to work’ checks on their prospective employees before employing them. These checks must be carried out in accordance with Home Office guidance, or else employers risk heavy penalties.

If an employer has not carried out the proper checks, a court may impose fines of up to £20,000 per illegal worker, or unlimited fines and up to five years in prison if the employer knew, or had reasonable cause to believe, that their employee was working in the UK illegally.

Until recently, these checks could only be carried out using hard copy paper checks, but the government has now decided to implement a modern and paper-free system.

Caroline Nokes, the Immigration Minister, explained:

“This is another step we are taking to simplify and modernise the immigration system. The online Right to Work Checking Service makes the checks simpler for employers and provides greater security as they no longer need to rely on physical documents when checking migrants’ status, further reducing the risk of forged documents being presented.

“Above all, our new checking service makes it easier than ever for migrants to view and prove their right to work in the UK.”

The online portal can be used to check whether certain individuals are permitted to work in the UK, provided they are non-EEA nationals with biometric residence permits or cards, or EEA nationals with settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

The government has also said that the changes will make it simpler for British citizens without British passports to demonstrate their citizenship by enabling them to use short birth or adoption certificates, (which are available for free), instead of having to order the more extended versions which incur an admin fee.

How to use the portal

In order to use the portal, prospective employees must check their status through the government website, uploading a photograph of themselves and generating a ‘share code’, valid for 30 days. This code is then passed to the employer who must check the details for themselves and ensure that the photograph matches their prospective employee. The employer should then save the ‘profile page’ confirming the resident’s right to work, for example in a pdf document or printed out, and may sign and date it to verify that the photograph matches the employee.

The employer should store the profile page and verification evidence throughout the employment period and for at least two years following that. To comply with GDPR, the employer must inform the employee that they are retaining this data.

The new online portal can be accessed here.

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