Right to work checks
Departments have a formal responsibility under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 to ensure that all prospective employees are not employed illegally.
In order to establish a valid justification against the liability to pay a civil penalty (currently a fine of up to £10,000 per illegal worker and/or imprisonment), departments must ensure that certain documents are checked, copied, signed, dated and retained before a person is allowed to commence employment.
- Right to work checks must be carried out for any person who will receive payment for any form of work for the University. This includes employees paid via the main payroll as well as temporary employees paid via the casual payroll.
- Right to work checks must also be carried out for people who do not hold employment contracts but who are still providing a service for which they will receive a fee e.g. a person giving a lecture/series of lectures.
- See Documents for specific guidance on the particular arrangements for right to work checks for out-tutors in colleges.
- Right to work checks also apply to sponsored researchers entering under Tier 5, even though they are not employees of the University and will not necessarily receive any form of payment from the University, and for any other individuals who work for the University but do not receive payment e.g. on work experience.
Right to work checks must be carried out for all prospective employees, regardless of nationality. In cases where an employee has limited permission to work in the UK (e.g. where they hold a work permit with an expiry date), repeat checks must be made at least every 12 months.
In addition to proving their right to work before starting employment, nationals from certain countries are also subject to additional requirements.
The document (Working in the UK: requirements according to nationality) summarises the requirements for work permits/work visas, and the need for Accession Worker Cards and Police Registration Certificates for nationals of most countries (contact the Work Permits Desk about the requirements for nationals from countries not included in this list). The information provided in this table can be used as a guide to the requirements applicable in most cases.
However, note that there may be occasions where certain individuals could be exempt from these requirements (contact the Work Permits Desk for further advice if necessary). In this table, note that the term 'work permit' refers specifically to letters issued under the work permit regulations, and not to the equivalents (Certificates of Sponsorship) issued under the points-based system. The term 'work visa' is used broadly to denote a stamp or vignette in the individual's passport (for example, this could be under Tiers 1, 2 or 5 of the points-based system, or an indefinite leave to remain or dependant visa), or an Identity Card for Foreign Nationals or Biometric Residence Permit, indicating permission to work in the UK.
The UK Border Agency has produced a comprehensive guidance document on how to carry out right to work checks. In particular, this document gives detailed illustrations of the documents that prove a person's right to work in the UK, illustrations of documents or stamps that prohibit a person from working in the UK, detailed information on employing EEA nationals, and a comprehensive question and answer section. It is strongly recommended that departments familiarise themselves with the UK Border Agency's guidance document and refer to it when carrying out right to work checks.
Note that different requirements for right to work checks apply to refugees and asylum seekers. Specific guidance on carrying out right to work checks for refugees and asylum seekers is available on the UK Border Agency website.
Procedures for carrying out right to work checks
The following sections summarise the procedures to be used for carrying out right to work checks for every prospective employee, and provide links to further guidance relating to the employment of overseas nationals both from within the EEA, and from outside the EEA.