IMPACT – MEDIUM
What is the change? The Home Office has published new right-to-work guidance that clarifies employers’ obligations in verifying employees’ work authorization.
What does the change mean? The guidance clarifies steps for employers in checking right-to work documentation for all U.K. employees and gives employers who follow the guidelines a “statutory defense” against any potential illegal working claim. The guidance has been updated to reflect the latest changes to the U.K.’s Immigration Rules, and now includes details on how to treat EEA nationals who lack work documentation but who have been long-term residents since before 1988 (“Windrush” generation workers), Croatian nationals, and workers transferring their employment under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment), or TUPE, as a result of a merger or acquisition.
Background: In 2016, the U.K. made it a criminal offense to work illegally or to employ an undocumented worker if the employer knows or has “reasonable cause to believe” it is doing so. Authorities can seize wages and assets and employers may face up to five years of imprisonment and an unlimited fine. As a best practice, employers should follow the specified three-step regime to ensure acceptable right-to-work check documents are retained prior to employment, to follow-up these right-to-work checks and to retain records as specified in the guidance.
BAL Analysis: The amendments to the guidance are not extensive and the overall immigration compliance and right-to-work framework remain unchanged. However, all U.K. employers should ensure up-to-date right-to-work guidance is available to their HR professionals and take this as an opportunity to review HR procedures to ensure that they are in full compliance.
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