How has the right to work check in the UK changed after the latest updates

Right to work check UK

How has the right to work check in the UK changed after the latest updates

If you’re a sponsor in the UK, you already know that the right to work check is one of the most important steps you should follow when sponsoring skilled workers.

The Home Office has recently unveiled a set of guidelines that can have a significant impact on how you conduct a right to work check in the UK.

So, what are the new changes and how does it affect your sponsorship process?

The COVID-19 concession

Due to COVID-19, sponsors were granted a COVID-19 concession that allowed them to conduct the right to work check in the UK using scanned copies of required documents, video calls, or through the Employer Checking Service (ECS).


This concession has now been extended until the 30th of September 2022 due to the continued impact of the pandemic. 


While you had to conduct retrospective right to work checks if you conducted an online check previously, according to the updated Employer’s Guide, any online check conducted between the 30th of March 2020 and the 30th of September 2022 doesn’t have to be followed up with a retrospective check.


You can maintain a statutory excuse if you conducted your online checks according to Home Office guidelines.


You must also know that a member of your HR team or a superior to the candidate must attest to the documents that have been obtained and copies retained.

Right to work check

There are 3 steps you must follow to check that a job applicant is allowed to work for you in the UK before you employ them:

1. Obtain

You must obtain original copies of the following documents:

  • Passport 
  • Biometric Residence Permit – From 6 April 2022 you will not be able to accept biometric residence cards or permits. Ask the applicant for a share code instead.
  • Stamped entry clearance visa—only if your employee was granted a visa outside the UK 

2. Check

Check the applicant’s right to work online, if they’ve given you their share code.

Check the applicant’s original documents.


While conducting your check, you must ensure that:


  • The dates for the right to work have not expired
  • The date of birth is consistent across all documents
  • The applicant has the right to work in the job role offered
  • The presented photos are consistent across all documents and resemble the applicant
  • The documents are legitimate, unaltered, and belong to the person presenting them to you
  • In case there are name inconsistencies, there are supporting documents explaining this

2. Copy and retain

After you’ve checked all the documents, you must:

  • Make clear, unalterable copies of all the documents 
  • Attest the copy by stating “I confirm that these are true copies of the original”—also include your name, role in the company, the date the check was conducted, and signature
  • Save the copy of the right to work check done online via the Home Office Service

Keep the copies in a safe location during employment and 2 years after the end of the employment period. Nation.better users store these documents on our secure platform.

Online right to work check (using a share code)

You must conduct the online check using the Home Office ECS, which works by allowing the candidate to first view their right to work status in the UK on the Home Office website.

The candidate profile can then be checked if they provide you with a share code. This code, when entered along with your candidate’s date of birth, allows you to access their right to work status. Your candidates can share the code with you directly or through the online service.

Keep in mind that this shared code is only valid for 30 days, after which you will need a new code to access the candidate profile.

Once you’ve received the code, you must:

  • Access the ‘View a job applicant’s right to work details’ via GOV.UK
  • Enter the ‘share code’ provided to you by the individual
  • Enter their date of birth

After you’ve gained access to the candidate’s profile, you need to ensure that the photograph in the profile is the same as the person applying for work—you can do this by a live video link.

You must only hire the candidate or continue sponsoring them if the online check confirms their right to work and you agree to conduct a follow-up check.

The candidate’s profile must be saved to retain evidence of your check—you have the option of printing it out or saving it as a PDF. Regardless of how you choose to save it, however, you must keep this copy for the duration of the employment and 2 years after the end of the sponsorship.

What happens if you don’t conduct a right to work check in the UK?

If you fail to conduct a check, you may face;

  • A civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker
  • A criminal conviction and a prison sentence of up to 5 years and an unlimited fine
  • The closure of the business and a compliance order issued by the court
  • Having earnings seized as a result of illegal working
  • The suspension or revocation of your sponsorship licence

How can Nation.better support you?

The right to work check in the UK is an important part of the sponsorship process.

At Nation.better, we help you sponsor the right candidate through our candidate eligibility assessments and our experts guiding you through every step of the right to work checking process.

Get in touch with us to learn more about our services.

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