Human Resources

How to undertake the check

This section provides information on what needs to be done to undertake the right to work check and the consequences of not doing them.

Undertaking right to work checks in Covid-19 situation

In the exceptional circumstances of the Covid-19 situation and our move to remote working, carrying out right to work checks in the usual way is not possible.  The recruitment process has therefore been re-visited and during this period will be as follows:

  1. At the time of offer, which will be made subject to a right to work, the successful applicant will be asked to e-mail a good, clear copy of their right to work documentation to a nominated member of the interview panel.
  2. Before the work start date, the panel member will arrange a video-link meeting during which checks are carried out using the copy of the individual’s documentation.  The successful applicant shows their original right to work document through the video link and the panel member compares the person to the original and copy of the document to verify their identity.
  3. The copy will be e-mailed to School/Department admin/local right to work checker, who will then follow the usual process to check the document permits a right to work and forward it to HR Operations.

At the end of the Covid-19 situation the original documentation must be presented and the usual right to work check process followed as outlined under ‘Procedure for undertaking a right to work check’ below.

Repeat right to work checks

Where a repeat right to work check is taking place on expiry of a visa, the individual must send their scanned document to a nominated contact in the School/Department.  As in the recruitment process above, the nominated person in the School/Department who knows the staff member must verify the document belongs to them.  Step 3 of the above process is then followed.

Document retention

The documentation will be retained electronically on SharePoint in-line with University document retention policies. Please note once documents have been uploaded to SharePoint, other copies of documents stored in other locations, ie e-mails/mobile phones/PCs etc must be deleted.

Procedure for undertaking a right to work check (except in Covid-19 situation)

When undertaking a right to work check, you must complete the following procedure:

  • The document must be checked with the employee present.
  • A clear copy must be taken and retained.
  • The copy can be either on paper or electronically, but it must be filed where it can be retrieved quickly in the event that UKVI request to see it.
  • If there is an expiry date on the visa, check that the date is in the future.

Following this process is known as establishing the ‘statutory excuse’.

Statutory Excuse

 You will not have a statutory excuse if:

• you cannot provide evidence of having conducted the prescribed document checks before the employment commenced;

• you have accepted a document which clearly does not belong to the holder, i.e. it is reasonably apparent that the document does not belong to the person presenting it or it is false);

• you have accepted a document which clearly shows that the person does not have permission to work in the UK and/or to carry out the type of work you are offering (you have employed/will be employing a person with either no right to work or a person in breach of their work).

• the visa showing your employee’s work entitlement or Biometric Residence Permit has expired;

• you know you are employing a person who is not allowed to undertake the work regardless of whether you have carried out any document checks

If you have any queries about the documents you are checking please contact your local HR team. 

Right to work checklist

The University has a checklist, which incorporates the UKVI Lists of acceptable documents. This is used when undertaking a right to work check to confirm receipt of the documents and that the check has been carried out.

Suspected False Documents

If you have any doubts about whether the document is genuine undertake the check as usual without raising a concern with the individual.  Then talk about your concerns with your College/Support HR team who will be able to advise a way forward.  It may be a case of requesting additional documentation, but if the individual cannot supply any documentation with which the University is satisfied they cannot be employed.

UKVI Guidance

Further information on carrying out a check can be found at the UKVI website along with examples of documentation.

UKVI employer guidance

Step by Step ‘check if someone can work in the UK’

The UKVIs ‘An employer’s guide to acceptable right to work documents’ gives examples of documents that can be accepted:

An employer's guide to acceptable right to work documents

Examples of European Documents can be found at:

Public Register of Documentation (PRADO)

Consequences of not doing the check

The University has a legal responsibility to carry out the check under UK legislation.  Failure to do this can result in:

  • On-the-spot fines of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker employed.
  • A two or five year prison sentence, depending on the circumstances.
  • Downgrading the University's sponsor license, resulting in the University being unable to sponsor any more workers, and potentially unable to recruit international students or
  • Withdrawal of the sponsor licence, which would lead to all sponsored individuals having to leave the University.

Training on undertaking right to work checks

The UKVI have guidance on examining and identifying documents:                     

Guidance on Examining and Identifying Documents

The University also offers training to employees who are required to undertake right to work checks.  If you are interested in attending the internal training please contact your College/Support Group HR.