Preventing illegal working on construction sites is extremely important.
It may seem that carrying out right to work checks is just a tick box exercise. However, if you do not conduct these checks or do not conduct them in accordance with UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) guidelines, and it is found you have employed workers illegally, you may face having to pay up to £20,000 for each illegal worker
In the last few years, the rules have got even stricter.
An employer who knowingly hires or has reasonable cause to believe an employee is working illegally is committing an offence. It carries a penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine!
How should you conduct right to work checks?
All construction employers should follow the three step process outlined by UKVI:
The documents presented must be listed on the official list of accepted documents. Examples include a current passport or a birth certificate.
You should check the expiry dates; that the picture and date of birth match the person; that the document has not been tampered with, etc. You must always conduct these checks with the document holder in front of you.
Make sure that they are safely stored and that your records clearly show when you carried out the check.
Here are some top tips for construction employers:
- To prevent any claims of discrimination, you should carry out these checks on all your applicants. Do not make assumptions or determine whether a check is necessary on factors such as their accent, ethnic origin or the time they have lived in the UK.
- If a person is only allowed to stay in the UK for a certain amount of time, you must carry out follow-up work checks.
- Make sure those carrying out the checks are fully trained.
- Encourage sub contractors and suppliers to put in the contracts that rights to work checks need to be carried out
What about Brexit?
Once we exit the EU, employers need to continue to carry out the test. Whether there will be more stringent requirements in the future is still unclear.
An Employment Tribunal held that an employer was allowed to fairly dismiss an employee who, although he had the right to work in the UK, could not provide a document that confirmed this.