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How do I check that my employees have the right to work in the UK?

04 September 2008

As an employer, it is your responsibility to check that each of your employees has the right to work in the UK before their employment begins.

To do this you need to see, verify and take copies of certain documents giving evidence of their right to work - for example, a passport showing that the person is a British subject or a national of a member country of the European Economic Area country or of Switzerland.

Lists of acceptable documentation are detailed in the Home Office's Border and Immigration Agency Code of Practice, which can be found at www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk.

Some of these documents provide ongoing evidence of the employee's right to work others have to be checked annually. The validity of the original document should be examined, and a copy should be made for your records. The copy should be kept throughout the employment and for at least two years afterwards.

If proper evidence is not obtained, it could result in you being fined as much as £10,000 for each employee who is not entitled to work in the UK. Further, if you knowingly employ someone who has no right to work, you can face as long as two years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine. It is, therefore, extremely important to undertake the proper checks.

Remember that the right to work should be checked for all employees, not just those who appear to be non-British, otherwise this could lead to race discrimination claims.

Katee Dias, Goodman Derrick 020 7404 0606kdias@gdlaw.co.uk

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