Employment ScreeningApril 12, 2024Demonstrate Your Right To Work Check in the UK

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Starting a job in the UK comes with a crucial task – proving your Right to Work. UK employers have a rule to check and record each employee’s immigration status. Let’s dive into the basics of Right to Work documents, exploring pre employment checks and regulations set by the Home Office.

Whether British, from the EU, or beyond, landing a new job requires showing you have the Right to Work. Employers, for all kinds of jobs, need to do checks. They’ll check regularly, even if you’re on a temporary work permit. The Home Office has different ways to prevent – from looking at your papers to using online services. Let’s make sense of it together. 

In this guide, we zoom in on manual checks, explaining why certain documents are crucial and helping you grasp the essentials of proving you can work legally & stay in the UK. Let’s simplify the journey to legal employment in the United Kingdom.

What is a Right To Work Document?

Understanding Right to Work documents ensures a legal and smooth start in the UK job market. These documents prove a person’s eligibility to work in the country. Approved by the Home Office, these papers play a crucial role in employers’ manual Right to Work (RTW) checks.

When employers choose the manual route for RTW checks, these documents become essential tools. They allow employers to verify a person’s current immigration status document beforehand ensuring compliance with the UK’s employment regulations. It’s important to note that if the RTW check is done online, the need for physical inspection of these approved documents is eliminated.

Who Needs to Prove the Right to Work?

Understanding the guidelines for Right to Work is essential, especially regarding premises and personal license applications. These guidelines specifically apply to:

  1. Individual Applicants: If you’re applying independently for a license or position, these rules are for you.
  2. Partnerships (Non-Limited Liability): For applications from partnerships that aren’t a limited liability, these guidelines are crucial to follow.

Remember, any licence becomes invalid if holders lose their right to work in the UK. So, whether you’re an individual, family member or part of a partnership, you must show:

  1. Entitlement to Work: Prove you have the right to work in the UK.
  2. No Work Restrictions: Ensure you’re not under any conditions preventing work related to licensable activities.

You can demonstrate this in two ways:

  1. Document Copies: Provide copies or scans of the required documents with your application.
  2. Share Code: Share your ‘share code’ to allow employers to verify your Right to Work online through the Home Office service.

How To Conduct Right to Work Checks?

With the help of technology, employers now have various tools to prevent illegal work. Let’s take a closer look at how they fulfill this essential responsibility. 

  1. Digital Right to Work Checks using IDSPs: Employers leverage Identity Document Validation Technology (IDVT) via Identity Document Service Providers (IDSPs). This method extends checks to British and Irish citizens, going beyond the scope of online services.
  2. Online Right to Work Checks using Share Codes: The Home Office’s online service empowers eligible migrant workers. They can generate a share code, granting permission to view their right to work. This method applies to those with a valid biometric residence permit or card, EU pre or settled status, lawful status under the points-based immigration system, a British National Overseas (BNO) visa, or a Frontier Worker permit.
  3. Using the Home Office’s Employer Checking Service (ECS): This free online service aids employers in conducting Right to Work checks. It’s beneficial when individuals can’t use online checks or provide acceptable documentation for manual checks due to pending applications, reviews, or appeals or if they arrived in the UK before 1989 without official documents.

Adopting these tools ensures employers comply with Right to Work regulations and navigate the evolving landscape effectively.

Right to Work Checklist For Manual Checks

1. Obtain acceptable Right to Work documents

You can only accept documents from the Home Office’s List A, List B Group 1 or List B Group 2. The Home Office has three different categories of ‘acceptable’ documents which deal with different types of permission and working status:

List A Documents: Unrestricted Permanence

List A comprises documents outlining your unrestricted and permanent Right to Work in the UK. Holding any of these means you have the green light to work without limitations.

List B Documents: Temporary or Restricted Rights

In contrast, List B Documents signify a temporary or partially restricted Right to Work. Within List B, there are two sub-groups. These groups guide employers on when to recheck your proof of Right to Work. Time restrictions on your permissions determine the specific sub-group and the need for periodic rechecks.

Navigating these lists is key to understanding and presenting the right documents that showcase your eligibility to work in the UK.

2. Checking the validity of the documents

Providing the proper documents is vital for proving the Right to Work. The Home Office sets out clear guidelines on what individuals need to submit. Notably, for EU nationals in the UK, there’s a notable change from July 1, 2021 – relying on passports or residence cards is no longer sufficient. It’s about showcasing immigration status, whether pre-settled status, EU-settled status, or a Skilled Worker visa.

Once the documents are in your hands, the responsibility shifts to validating their authenticity. As an employer, you play a crucial role in ensuring that the presented documents are genuine and belong to the person in front of you. The checklist includes:

  • Matching photographs and birth dates.
  • Checking expiry dates.
  • Understanding any work restrictions.
  • Confirming the overall genuineness.

This vigilance helps detect potential issues, from imper3. sonation to expired permissions, ensuring a smooth and legally compliant hiring process.

3. Copy the documents provided

You then have to make a formal record of the documents you have checked.

Each document has to be copied at the time the check is made. The copy must be clear, and in a format which cannot be altered or edited at a later date.

You must also record the date the check was made.

The copy then has to be retained securely by your organisation, either electronically or in hardcopy:

  • Passports: any page with the document expiry date, nationality, date of birth, signature, leave expiry date, biometric details and photograph, and any page containing information indicating the holder has an entitlement to enter or remain in the UK and undertake the work in question.
  • All other documents: the document in full, both sides of a Biometric Residence Permit.

This evidence must be retained for the duration of the individual’s employment and for a further two years after they stop working for your organisation.

Right to Work Documents

List A: Indefinite Right to Work

Certain documents are your golden ticket when proving your right to work indefinitely in the UK. Check if you have any of these:

  1. British or UK and Colonies Passport

Type: Current or expired

Requirement: Should display your right of abode in the UK.

  1. Irish Passport or Passport Card

Type: Regardless of current or expired status.

  1. Document from Jersey, Guernsey, or Isle of Man

Type: Verified by the Home Office Employer Checking Service.

Requirement: Proves unlimited leave under relevant immigration rules.

  1. Exempt Passport

Type: Current

Requirement: Should show exemption from immigration control, indefinite stay, right of abode, or no time limit in the UK.

  1. Home Office Immigration Status Document

Type: Current

Requirement: Indicates indefinite stay, must be accompanied by an official document featuring your permanent National Insurance number and their name.

  1. Birth or Adoption Certificate

Type: Obtain a certificate from the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, or Ireland.

Requirement: Paired with an official document featuring a document giving the person’s permanent National Insurance number.

  1. Certificate of Registration or Naturalisation

Type: For British citizens

Requirement: Supported by an official document displaying the person’s permanent National Insurance) number.

Ensuring you have the right document for your unique situation is crucial. This checklist guides you through the accepted proof, making the process smoother for everyone involved.

List B Group 1: Limited Permission to Work

If you have time-limited permission to work, ensure you possess the following:

  1. Endorsed Passport: Submit a current passport revealing permission to stay and work.
  2. Verified Limited Leave Document: A document from  Bailiwick of Jersey,  Bailiwick of Guernsey, or Isle of Man, validated by the Home Office Employer Checking Service. It confirms the holder’s granted limited leave under relevant immigration rules.
  3. Immigration Status Document: Provide a document featuring a photograph validly endorsing the named person to stay and work, supported by an official document with the permanent National Insurance number.

List B Group 2: Application in Progress

These documents are of utmost importance for individuals in the process of awaiting decisions on their entry or residence status. 

  1. Home Office Issued Document: Include documents for applications made on or before June 30, 2021.
  2. Certificate of Application: For applications post-July 1, 2021, submit either a digital or non-digital certificate.
  3. EU Leave Application Verification document: A document from Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man, signaling an application for Appendix EU leave. Must be coupled with a Positive Verification Notice issued from the Home Office Employer Checking Service
  4. Application Registration Card: Submit a card from the Home Office confirming permission to take the job, accompanied by a Positive Verification Notice.
  5. Positive Verification Notice: Provide the employer with a Home Office Employer Checking Service notice confirming the person’s right to stay and work.

Follow-up Checks

Once an individual provides documents from List A, your organization is clear – no additional document checks are needed while they work with you. However, if someone submits List B documents indicating a time limitation or restriction on their Right to Work, there’s a need for follow-up.

To stay compliant, conduct document checks every 12 months or upon the visa’s expiry – whichever comes first. If the employee hands in List A documents during the agency or a previous,repeat check, you’re set – no more checks are needed in their employment.

The Home Office guide from November 2022 emphasizes the need for right-to-work checks, especially when a sponsored worker takes on a new role, even within the same sponsor. Following UKVI application approval is a smart move, ensuring a smooth continuation of legal employment. Stay watchful and manage the paperwork to stick to Right to Work standards. 

Right-to-work Changes & Compliance

The dynamics of Right to Work rules in the UK have undergone substantial changes, especially concerning EU workers. The Home Office’s shift towards digitization brings added complexity, creating compliance challenges for employers. It’s crucial to stay updated, as the rules that once sufficed may now fall short of requirements.

Starting July 1, 2021, new EU, EEA, and Swiss employees must prove their Right to Work with valid pre-settled status, settled status, or a valid visa. 

Moreover, since April 6, 2022, the verification process for Biometric Residence Card (BRC), Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), and Frontier Worker Permit (FWP) holders has shifted to the Home Office online service. Physical documents of these types are no longer accepted, even if they have a later expiration date.

Failure to conduct these necessary checks and maintain accurate records exposes employers to enforcement action, civil penalties, and potential criminal sanctions. As of January 22, 2024, civil penalties are escalating to £45,000 per illegal worker for initial breaches and up to £60,000 for repeat offences. 

Organizations must comply with prescribed duties to safeguard against Home Office allegations of illegal employment. Seek professional guidance when facing civil penalties to explore available defence options. Stay informed to navigate the evolving landscape of Right to Work rules effectively.

Loss of Right to Work: Navigating Compliance Challenges

Discovering that an employee no longer has the Right to Work is pivotal for employers. If, during a repeat check, you find out about a breach or excess of permission – like surpassing working hours – and you still continue their employment, legal consequences may arise. This scenario puts you and previous employer at risk of civil and criminal penalties for knowingly employing an illegal worker.

Swift action is crucial upon realizing an employee’s loss of permission. Instead of instant dismissal, it’s wise to seek advice promptly. This route helps avoid potential employment law pitfalls, such as unfair dismissal or discrimination claims. Understanding the nuances of these situations is critical to maintaining compliance with your duties as an employer. Navigating the complex terrain of Right to Work challenges requires careful consideration and timely expert guidance.


The regulations surrounding right-to-work checks and other background screening processes can be intricate. Non-compliance with the laws governing legal employment can lead to significant consequences for an organization and the individuals and their families. 

Obtaining expert guidance from a specialized background check company like PamGro becomes crucial in maintaining legal compliance. By partnering with PamGro, you can access the knowledge and support needed to navigate these legal intricacies effectively. Feel free to reach out to us for more detailed information and assistance. 

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