Right to Work checks – The importance of doing them correctly

The Home Office have recently announced further changes in immigration policy in attempt to clamp down on unlawful migration; this time with a focus on targeting employers. This is why it’s important to ensure you’re doing the correct Right to Work checks.

The current law

Currently, the penalty you will receive for a first time breach of employing someone without the right to work is £15,000 for each worker that doesn’t a lawful immigration status.

If employers continuously breach the fine is £20,000. In addition to the fines, there is a maximum 5 year prison sentence for employers who are found guilty of employing someone who they knew or ‘had reason to believe’ did not have a legal right to work in the UK.

So, what are the changes

Under the recently enacted Illegal Migration Act 2023, the fines are set to triple as of 2024. This means the maximum penalty for a first time breach will increase to £45,000. For those who repeatedly breach it will increase to £60,000. These fines are huge for any business.

Right to work checks – what can you do as employer

  1. Ensure the team carrying out Right to Work checks have had appropriate training. The Home office guidance provides details of how a Right to work check should be conducted. If you are unsure after checking the guidance, you should seek specialist advice.
  2. As an employer you should carry out regular audits of your staff to ensure they remain compliant with immigration law. Whilst there is no legal obligation to do follow up checks, it is seen as best practice, especially if you have employee’s working on time-limited, e.g. they have limited leave to remain and work in the UK, with a visa that must be extended in time.
  3. Don’t make assumptions about people’s immigration status. Be sure to complete Right to Work checks on all employees, whatever nationality.

In summary

Whilst the fine has increased, the process of completing Right to Work checks hasn’t changed.

You should already be conducting the checks and have trained staff and process in place to support this.

If you need further support of guidance, you can contact the Home Office or visit their website.

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