Published: Tuesday June 06, 2017
A common problem for today’s national retailers is having a replicable process to capture the right to work checks across the organisation. Store managers are responsible for hiring new staff, capturing a candidate’s right to work and assigning an individual’s immigration status as List A or List B.
The checking process is already complex; you may receive forged or falsely obtained documents, or you may forget to do something as simple as copying both sides of a biometric residency permit. Such errors now carry significant civil penalties and reputational damage.
It is also recognised that illegal working is a major issue for Government, employers, further education and landlords, as the UK seeks to control immigration. Increasing the importance of ensuring that appropriate right to work checks are carried out at the correct time.
The Home Office simplified the checking process into three stages: obtain, check and copy.
However, experienced HR professionals often like to think of the process in ten stages.
- Have you got an acceptable and authentic document?
- Is the document in date?
- Are there any restrictions preventing employment?
- Are all associated documents valid – even if written in a different language?
- Are you satisfied the document is genuine, has not been tampered with and belongs to the holder?
- Are photographs and dates of birth consistent across documents and with the person’s appearance?
- Are expiry dates for time-limited permission to be in the UK in the future i.e. they have not passed (if the person’s documents are not from List A)?
- Have you checked work restrictions to determine if the person is able to work for you and do the type of work you are offering? (for students who have limited permission to work during term-times, you must also obtain details of their academic term and vacation times covering the duration of their period of study in the UK for which they will be employed)
- Have you checked the reasons for any different names across documents (e.g. marriage certificate, divorce decree, deed poll)? (Supporting documents should also be photocopied and a copy retained.)
- Can you provide auditable proof that the documents have been seen?
The penalties can be severe. The maximum civil penalty fine for employing an illegal worker is £20,000 per illegal worker. The Immigration Act 2016 increased the maximum criminal penalty from 2 years to 5 years, and you may also be subject to revocation of alcohol licence and temporary closure of the business.
Today’s retailers need a reliable set of technologies and processes that protect the organisation and its reputation. Any system should have access not just to UK national, but also international databases, and have an in-built audit trail that can securely retrieve details of all checks performed and any documents screened.