HR Alert: Right to work checks

PRACTICES must ensure they comply with new right to work check rules or risk harsh penalties.

It is important that employers have procedures in place to check that prospective employees have the right to work in the UK under new laws introduced at the beginning of the year. Failure to carry out checks could put practices at risk of financial or even criminal penalties.

Checks should take place for ALL employees to ensure specific groups of employees are not unfairly targeted. Employers can access real-time information on the Home Office’s Right to Work Checking Service.

This first requires the employee to request a code from the Home Office that allows access to their data.

When you carry out an online check, you will need to:

• Satisfy yourself that the photo on the online check is accurate

• Retain a copy of the online check response demonstrating the individual’s right to work

• Carry out necessary follow-up checks.

There are no requirements to carry out annual checks, only at the start of employment and, for employees with a temporary visa, at the time the visa expires. However, we do recommend that you carry out regular audits as part of your practice’s internal procedures (perhaps at the same time as checking GMC/NMC/GDC registration) to minimise errors.

The law relating to employees’ rights to work in the UK is complicated and the penalties can be significant. The best way for an employer to protect themselves is to ensure that you have robust policies and procedures in place.