In the UK, all employers have a responsibility to prevent illegal work by carrying out a right to work check before employing someone.

So, how do you carry out a right to work check, and why are they so important?

Right To Work Check In 3 Steps

There are 3 key steps that must be actioned when carrying out a manual right to work check: Obtain, Check and Copy.

Step 1: Obtain

You must obtain original documents from either List A or B of documents deemed acceptable by the UK government, for example, a passport showing that the employee is a British citizen. Full lists of acceptable documents are available on the UK government website.

Step 2: Check

You must check:

  1. The document/s provided are genuine, have not been tampered with and belong to the holder.
  2. Expiry dates for permission to be in the UK have not passed.
  3. Any work restrictions to determine if they are allowed to do the type of work offered by your business.
  4. Photographs and dates of birth are consistent across documents and with the person’s appearance.
  5. Any discrepancy in names across documents can be explained by providing evidence (e.g. a marriage certificate). As the employer, you must retain a copy of these supporting documents.

All documents should be checked in the presence of the employee.

Step 3: Copy

You must make a clear copy of each document in a format that cannot be manually altered and retain the copy securely. You can retain the copy either electronically or in a hard copy. You must also retain a secure record of the date on which you checked the documents.

All copies should be kept securely for the duration of the worker’s employment and for two years afterwards. Then the copies must be securely destroyed.

Alternative Methods Of Right To Work Check:

Home Office

Most non-UK citizens will have an immigration status that can be checked online. For this, they should be able to provide you with a share code that you can use to evidence their right to work using the Home Office online service.

Biometric Residence Cards (BRC), Biometric Resident Permits (BRP) and Frontier Worker Permits (FWP) are not acceptable as proof of right to work.

Identity Service Provider (ISP)

This method is particularly useful if your employees work remotely. From 6th April 2022, employers have been allowed to use Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) via an Identity Service Provider to complete right to work checks digitally for British and Irish citizens who hold valid passports.

What Happens If Right To Work Checks Are Not Carried Out Correctly?

The UK Visa & Immigration Service carry out unannounced visits and the likelihood of that happening increases if you have a sponsorship licence.

If you are found to have employed someone who is disqualified from working because of their immigration status, and you did not carry out a right to work check correctly, you would receive a civil penalty for that illegal worker. This means you may have to pay a fine of up to £20,000.

You will not have to pay this penalty, however, if you can show that you made the correct right to work checks. Getting these checks right is therefore vital to protect your business.

How Can HR Revolution Help With Right To Work Checks?

The responsibility for performing right to work checks will remain with you as the employer, however, HR Revolution can help by:

  • Training employers and line managers on how to carry out right to work checks correctly.
  • Storing the appropriate records for the correct length of time on the HR Information System.
  • Running regular audits to make sure files are up to date.
  • Sending updates regarding any changes in legislation – 2022 alone has seen several changes, including the introduction of the digital right to work checks and the switch from Biometric Resident Permits to share codes.

All of this helps our clients to make they are compliant with UK law and avoid those unwanted fines!

Remember: Right to work checks that are not completed correctly can result in hefty fines for employers. Although we can’t take the responsibility from you, we can help you to get it right. 

For more information or if you would like us to cover this process for you, please get in touch! Contact our experienced HR Team at