Employers will be familiar with the legal obligation to follow the prescribed requirements of checking a prospective hire’s documents and verifying their legal entitlement to work in the UK, prior to the candidate commencing employment. As we saw in our Right to Work blog, after 30th June, a Biometric Residence Permit or EU/Swiss passport will no longer be accepted as proof of right to work and, thus, will not provide a statutory excuse against civil penalties and the possibility of criminal prosecution. Rather, a candidate from outside the UK/Ireland must show either proof of settled or pre-settled status entitling them to work in the UK or, if they are illegible to apply for such a status (for example, having only recently arrived in the UK to work for an employer with a lawful sponsor licence), they must show a valid work visa. Whilst this sounds simple in theory, challenges can arise if a prospective employee is unable to produce evidence of his or her settled or pre-settled status and thus, their right to work in the UK. In such cases, a Positive Verification Notice will be required for the statutory excuse to apply.
When Will a Positive Verification Notice Be Required?
If a prospective hire applied for settled or pre-settled status prior to the June 30th deadline and a decision has been made in respect of this, he or she will be provided with a share code, which can be used to access an online record of his or her right to work. However, the Home Office has confirmed that in cases where a decision has yet to be made, or where a candidate has appealed a decision or requested an administrative review, employers will be required to contact the free Employer Checking Service (ECS) via their website for verification.
Kevin Gordon / The Home Office, Marsham Street, Westminster, London SW1
What Do I Need to Know About Verification Notices?
Within five working days of an employer making a request, the ECS will respond with either a Positive Verification Notice, confirming that a prospective employee has the right to work in the UK, or a Negative Verification Notice, which confirms the opposite. An employer can rely on a Positive Verification Notice to establish the statutory excuse for a period of six months from the date of receipt. However, if at any point during this period the employer becomes aware that the employee does not have the right to work (for example, where the employee has had his or her application or review rejected), then the statutory excuse will no longer be valid.
Where an employer goes on to hire a candidate for whom it has received a Negative Verification Notice, that employer will be liable for civil and criminal penalties. Further, whilst there exists a 28-day grace period where the statutory excuse will continue for existing employees when the employer has made a request to the ECS, no such grace period exists in respect of prospective employees, so employers must wait for a positive response prior to hiring a candidate.
How Secure Screening Services Can Help
At Secure Screening Services we aim to take the complexity out of right to work screening to ensure that, not only are you employing people who are entitled to work in the UK, but also that you can evidence you have met your regulatory obligations in this regard whenever required.
Our highly experienced team personally checks evidence of an individual’s immigration status and right to work, whether this be via a share code or the ECS. Copies of this evidence is then stored securely within our user-friendly and GDPR compliant online screening portal and can be downloaded anytime, anywhere.
We are experts in our field and keep abreast of the ever-changing legislation, liaising directly with the Home Office when required, so you can rest assured that our comprehensive right to work checking procedures are always up-to-date.