The Home Office Right to Work Checking Service was launched in April 2018. It is free to use and enables UK employers to check the current right to work of a person and to see whether they are subject to any restrictions.

The system works on the basis of the individual first viewing their own Home Office right to work record online. They may then share this information with an employer if they wish, by providing their employer with a “share code” to access the record. However, currently, employers still need to request paper documents alongside using the online service.

On 13 December, legislation was laid before Parliament together with a revised Code of practice on preventing illegal working.  The Order provides that employers will be able to rely solely on an online check from 28 January 2019, where a prospective employee has an immigration status that can be checked using the service.

The online checking service can be used by non-EEA nationals who hold biometric residence permits or biometric residence cards and EEA nationals who have been granted immigration status under the EU Settlement Scheme. EEA nationals who have not been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme will still need to demonstrate their right to work using the appropriate documents.

An employer using the online service will be excused from a civil penalty if:

  • The online check confirms that the employee is allowed to work in the UK and perform the work in question.
  • It satisfies itself that any photograph on the online right to work check is of the employee.
  • It retains a copy of the online check for at least two years after the employment ends.
  • It obtains and retains details of the term and vacation dates of the person’s course of study, if they are a student.

Employers will be able to request either the online check or the existing document-based check whilst migrants and employers develop familiarity with the new service.

From 28 January 2019, employers can also accept short-form birth and adoption certificates together with a National Insurance number when conducting right to work checks, making it easier for British citizens who do not hold a passport to demonstrate their right to work.

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