Employers have a duty to carry out pre-employment immigration checks. This involves three steps:
- obtain original versions of one or more acceptable documents
- check the document’s validity in the presence of the holder
- make and retain copies and record the date of the check.
Employers may be liable to a substantial civil penalty (fine) if they cannot provide a record of having conducted the document checks before recruitment or, in the case of checks required on workers with a time-limited immigration status, during the employment
- they have accepted a document which clearly does not belong to the holder
- they have conducted a check and it is reasonably apparent that the document is false
- they have accepted a document which clearly shows the person does not have permission to work in the UK or do the type of work they are doing.
On 16th May 2014 the Home Office published a number of Codes of Practice and guides on complying with this duty to carry out pre-employment immigration checks, including a guide to acceptable documents; they are available here.
One Home Office Code recommends that employers carry out immigration checks for all prospective workers, not just for those who are from an ethnic minority, so as to avoid allegations of race discrimination.
If you have any concerns about your current recruitment policy’s compliance with the new rules or how to check right to work documentation, please speak to your EW Adviser.