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5 steps on how to complete a right to work check

Every employer in the UK must complete a right to work check at the beginning of any employment. The Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 posits that it is the employer's duty to prevent illegal working. The Act also makes is unlawful to employ any person who does not have appropriate rights to work in the UK.

It is therefore expedient on employers to ensure that they undertake proper checks on documents of employees before the commencement of their employment.

What are the right to work checks?

  1. Obtain right to work document
  2. Check right to work document
  3. Copy and retain a copy of right to work document
  4. Update all relevant systems with right to work document information
  5. Conduct repeat checks at the designated date (most likely expiry of right to work document)

What is a right to work document

A right to work document is a document that proves that an employee has a right to work in the UK. A British citizen automatically has rights to work in the UK; but how would employers know that they are British without a document confirming same. Importantly, an employer cannot assume based on the accent of a potential employee, or how long they have stayed in the UK that they have rights to work in the UK.

Persons with rights to work in the UK

Rights to work with no restrictions

  1. British citizens - they can evidence this by showing their passports or birth certificates
  2. European nationals - this can also be evidenced by showing passports or birth certificates

Rights to work with some form of restrictions

As a general rule, any person that is neither British nor European may not have automatic rights to work in the country. In some cases, their rights to work may be limited to a certain number of hours, or based on their relationship with either a British or a European national or based on their visa status. Such that once that visa expires, or the immigration status of the migrant changes, their rights to work document either becomes obsolete or invalid.

  1. Family member of EEA or British nationals - Their visa is restricted to their relationship with the European or British national. Any change in the condition of that family member will affect their rights to work
  2. Persons on visit visa - As a general rule, it is highly unlikely that someone who is currently on a visit visa will have rights to work in the UK.
  3. Student visa - Generally Tier 4 (general) visas or student visas will normally have a restriction of between zero working hours to 20 working hours during term time. Importantly, the allowed hours will normally be stated on their Biometric Residence Card.

Persons with no rights to work

Any person who is neither British nor European and does not have a valid leave to remain in the country will most likely not have rights to work in the country. Hiring such person is illegal.

If you are not sure one or more of your employees have rights to work in the UK or are unsure of a right to work document, contact our immigration lawyers now on 02037442797.

How we can help

At Reiss Edwards, we can assist in ensuring that the right to work checks are undertaken properly. With our experienced immigration advisers, you can be sure that your checks will be done competently in accordance with the Home Office guidelines.

Contact us today for a free assessment on 02037442797 or send us an email on

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