Online right to work checks introduced by UK Visas and Immigration

By Teni Shahiean, CEO at OTS Solicitors 

In a period of turbulent politics and confusion over Home Office conflicting announcements over Investor Visas, I am delighted to announce some good news emanating from the Home Office.  

Online right to work checks

For human resource managers the paperwork involved in carrying out and keeping a paper trail of completed right to work checks is daunting. top London immigration solicitors advise that if the paperwork is not kept up to date the company Sponsor licence is at risk of revocation or suspension.

The Home Office has now introduced online right to work checks.

Right to work check announcement

The Home Office Right to Work Checking Service was announced in April 2018. However, on the 14 December 2018 Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes, said that the online service was now fully operational.

In a statement, Caroline Nokes, said:

“The Right to Work Checking Service is secure and free to use. It was launched in April this year, however until now employers have still needed to request paper documents alongside using the service. The changes will mean that employers can use the online service to demonstrate they conducted the necessary right to work checks on migrants and avoid a penalty if they are found to be employing illegal workers.

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’’.

Right to work checks

The Home Office has confirmed that the new online service is voluntary for both employers and individual migrant workers. 

The best London immigration solicitors think employers may be encouraged to use the online system because of the ability of individual migrants to authorise their current or prospective employer to see information about their Immigration status to conduct the right to work check.

Who can use the new online right to work check?

The online right to work checking service can be used by: 

EEA nationals who have biometric residence permits or biometric residence cards; and

EEA nationals who have settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. 

Who cannot use the new online right to work check?

EEA nationals who do not have settled status under the EEA scheme will still need to use the current paperwork to establish their right to work through the paper documents, such as their passport. 

Use of short style birth and adoption certificates 

The Home Office has said that the new online procedures will enable UK nationals without British passports to demonstrate their citizenship by using short birth or adoption certificates. This is instead of having to use the long style certificates that take time to order. top London immigration solicitors have welcomed this change.

The employer’s duties to check employee's Immigration status and right to work  

The best London immigration solicitors advise that the employers’ duties remain the same. Although the Home Office have introduced an online service to check right to work eligibility, under Immigration legislation, an employer remains legally obliged to check a potential employee’s right to work in the UK prior to recruiting the new employee. 

Employer’s criminal liability for employing employees without checking Immigration status 

If an employer does not comply with the Immigration laws then under the Immigration Act 2016 an employer commits a criminal offence if they knowingly employ someone who is not legally entitled to work in the UK. The penalty is an unlimited fine and/or a prison sentence of up to 5 years.

Employer’s civil liability for employing employees without checking Immigration status 

If an employer does not:

• Follow Immigration status check; or

• Investigate whether there is reasonable cause to believe that their new employee does not have the right to work in the UK. 

The employer can face a civil liability of up to £20,000 for each employee who has been employed but who does not have the right to work in the UK  

Potential claims by an employee relating to right to work checks

Whenever the Home Office announce new rules and procedures there is the potential for things to go wrong. After all, even though the changes are being hailed as beneficial for employers and migrant workers, human resource managers will need to set up new procedures to carry out on line right to work checks. 

With the new online system in its infancy, employers could face claims from prospective employees if right to work checks are inaccurate. Furthermore, the company employer could face criminal or civil sanctions for not carrying out the right to work checks correctly. On top of that, the best London immigration solicitors say that an employer could face massive reputational damage to a company through either:

• Employing workers who are not legally entitled to work in the UK; or 

• Discriminating against job applicants based on the requirement to carry out more detailed right to work checks than other UK born job candidates. 

How can OTS Solicitors help?

As top London Employment and Immigration, law solicitors the firm is proactive in keeping employers abreast of developments in Immigration and employment law.

OTS Solicitors pride ourselves on offering large and small companies bespoke Employment and Immigration law training on compliance and prevention. 

OTS Solicitors believe that early specialist employment law and Immigration advice avoids problems. However, if you have an issue, as an employer or employee, with right to work checks, then OTS Solicitors can provide specialist representation.

OTS Solicitors are specialist in business immigration and employment law matters. For more information on company duties in relation to right to work checks or advice and support on any aspect of business immigration or employment law, please call me on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London Immigration and employment solicitors.

 

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