If you work in HR, you will know that there is an ever increasing enforcement of Right to Work legislation, putting more pressure on employers to check potential employee's right to work in the UK.
But checking whether someone has a legal right to work in the UK should only be undertaken once a potential employee's identity has been confirmed. Checking identity documents, such as passports, are an essential element. Here's why:
1. Right to Work checks are irrelevant if the documents used to support their identity are forged.
Checking a potential employee's right to work is time consuming and therefore costly. And so are all subsequent activities such as reference checks. Before you do anything, make sure you're as confident as possible that the person is who they say they are.
2. Being clear up-front about your document checking process is likely to put off those relying upon false documentation.
Whether you are manually or electronically checking documents, in our experience, advertising the fact that your organisation conducts these checks robustly will reduce the number of applications from those who intend to use fake identities.
3. Having a process of checking documents that support identity shows your organisation is acting responsibly.
It's an unfortunate fact that, these days, we must not only carry out checks but also prove it's been done. With the Immigration Act 2016 putting even more emphasis on checking a right to work, the onus is on employers to carry it out. Failure to do so could result in substantial fines.
If every effort has been made to conform and there is a history of proof, then this can be a defence against prosecution (statutory excuse) should someone slip through the net.
4. Robust checks can prevent years of exposure to fraud.
Once an identity has been accepted and a candidate employed, it allows that person to act with impunity, potentially putting an organisation's finances at risk. The issue goes beyond fraud though when we consider the cost of employment, training, customer relations and the need for replacement should a fraudulent identity be uncovered at a later stage. All this can be avoided at the outset with the proper checks in place.
5. Checks in every instance reduce the potential for existing employees to knowingly employ those without a right to work.
With the proper processes in place, it becomes more difficult for existing staff to help those they know to gain employment when they don't have the right to work in the UK. With organisations at the forefront of fines and with reputations to maintain, there is a need for a transparent approach to pre-employment - starting with confirmation of identity.
There are a number of ways to check documents used to support identity. Larger organisations are increasingly using electronic scanning solutions as it automates the record keeping process and enables more sophisticated checks of visible and non-visible document data.
For more manual checks, staff need guidance on what to look for when checking documents. We have produced a handy checklist which you are welcome to use. Please note that documents change over time and so you should always check the latest guidance.
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