June 17, 2021

U.K. Issues Draft Updates to the Practices to Prevent Illegal Working

Right to Work checks are a mandatory part of the employee hiring process in the United Kingdom. Following the exit of the U.K. from the European Union, the way these checks are carried out for European Economic Area (EEA) nationals is set to change. In order to address these changes, the U.K. Home Office has released a draft update of the “Code of practice on preventing illegal working: Civil penalty scheme for employers.” Once the final version is published, the new code will apply to all Right to Work checks conducted from July 1, 2021.

Employers should refer to the draft along with the “Employer’s Guide to Right to Work Checks” when completing the mandatory verifications. The draft update is due to be finalized and published shortly. At this stage it provides initial insights into the new Right to Work check system following the end of the Brexit transition and grace period, terminating at the end of June 2021.

Key changes within the draft specify that all Right to Work checks, including follow-up checks on existing employees, will apply from the July 1 date. The draft code also confirms that EEA nationals will need to provide proof of their U.K. immigration status. This includes those with status issued under the EU Settlement Scheme or the Immigration Rules, or evidence of a pending application under either system with a Positive Verification Notice obtained via the Home Office’s Employer Checking Service. The draft also provides amendments to the list of acceptable Right to Work documents in relation to the post-Brexit situation. Specifically, EEA national passports and national ID cards will no longer be accepted as evidence of Right to Work in the U.K., with exceptions for Irish nationals.

The draft update to the code also references the Home Office’s implementation of digital immigration status checks replacing physical documents. Currently, this is applicable to statuses under the EU Settlement Scheme, but the code indicates this will increasingly be the case for other immigration types. Employers should be prepared to include the online Right to Work check service into their hiring procedures. Finally, the government concessions implemented in response to COVID-19 that permitted virtual Right to Work checks have also been formalized within the draft revised code.

What’s the impact?

Employers should update their internal Right to Work processes and complete any necessary training for staff conducting checks, ensuring they are fully up to date on the documents required and the Online Right to Work check service for EEA nationals. Failure to comply, and knowingly employ a foreign national without the Right to Work in the U.K. is an offence that can lead to civil penalties.

For further information on the changes to the Home Office “Code of practice on preventing illegal working: Civil penalty scheme for employers” and Right to Work Checks in the U.K., please contact the Sterling Lexicon immigration team.
 

 
Leanne Cottrell

Leanne Cottrell

As Head of Immigration with Sterling Lexicon, Leanne leads a team of specialists who are responsible for ensuring the entire immigration process is smooth and stress-free for clients, assignees and their accompanying family members. She brings over ten years of experience in strategic immigration management, planning and consultation to her role, and has cultivated invaluable knowledge and experience in processing countless global migration applications. As a trusted partner, she consults with clients on everything from policy considerations and cost or efficiency improvements, to the impact of opening offices in new locations. Leanne is a frequent presenter and author on global immigration topics and trends.

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