Right to Work in the UK Checks – are you doing them properly, or at all?

I recently wrote a blog on the new Immigration Skills Charge, which will affect all businesses who employ non-EU nationals by adding up to £3,000 per employee recruited from overseas.

If you work in regulated industries that require basic or enhanced Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) checks before employees are able to work for you, or sponsor overseas workers to join your business, you are likely to have robust processes for checking and keeping on top of these right to work in the UK checks.

But those of you who don’t have to undertake these types of checks may not be verifying the basic rights to work, and could be liable to pay penalties of up to £10,000 per employee.

Onfido (a global identity verification platform) analysed information from a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office and found that UK businesses lost almost £50 million in civil penalties for illegal working between 2015-2016. These figures show the extent to which many of you may be struggling to remain compliant with pre-employment screening.

Working for an HR Consultancy involves assisting some of our clients with background screening checks as part of our service offering, but these clients are in the minority as they are only undertaking the checks due to the nature of their business.

So why do many businesses still struggle to get these checks right? In most cases, the person undertaking the checks may not be experienced or trained in the correct way to check the documentation and the potential for document fraud increases. Those employers with high staff turnover and based across multiple sites are likely to be at higher risk than most.

If you are concerned about the checks you carry out, and feel you may potentially be at risk if asked to provide right to work documentation, then you should consider taking action now. Ask your HR team or outsourced HR provider to recommend a couple of screening companies. You would be surprised at how inexpensive the screening checks are – around £50 per check which, compared to the fine of £10,000 for getting it wrong, shows it’s worth spending the money in the first place to get it right.

Once you’ve put this in place, it’s just a matter of keeping on top of your records, ensuring they are stored safely and securely and making sure that reminders are set for Work Permit or Visa expiry dates to ensure you do not have people working for you illegally.