Carrying out right to work checks as an employer

Carrying out right to work checks as an employer
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Posted: Fri 24th Nov 2023

By law, all businesses must establish whether any new employee or casual worker has the right to work in the UK.

The requirements for right to work checks on EU, EEA and Swiss employees were updated on 1 July 2021 when the UK left the EU and freedom of movement ended.

In this blog, we explain what your obligations are around right to work checks on EU, EEA and Swiss workers. Please be aware that the rules change regularly and it's your responsibility to make sure you have the latest information.

Who are the right to work checks for?

  • You must carry out right to work checks on all new staff.

  • You don't need to carry out retrospective checks on any staff you employed before 1 July 2021.

  • You can do these checks online using a share code and the employee's date of birth. Or, if this isn't possible, you can check eligible original documents.

  • People with settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) can be EEA nationals, with an ID issued by an EEA country. However, their family members may have an ID issued by any country in the world.

How to carry out right to work checks for job applicants with EU Settled Status

The easiest way to check the applicant's right to work is by checking their share code and date of birth. You can share the short video below with the applicant to show them how.



If the applicant has a share code, you can find out their status by using the UK government's online service. Find out how in this short video below.



Once you have the person's confirmation of status, you must keep a record of it for as long as you employ them, and for up to two years after their employment has ended.

If you're not able to see their share code, you must check their passport, immigration status document and application registration document. You must keep copies of any documents and record the date on which you did the checks.

You can find a list of acceptable documents in the Home Office's guidance for employers.

Job applicants with pre-settled or settled status

If your applicant has settled status, they have the continuous right to work – known as indefinite leave to remain – and you only have to do right to work checks once.

If they have pre-settled status, there is a time limit on their right to work, meaning you must carry out a follow-up check. The Home Office's online service will let you know when you need to do this check.

Job applicants without status

If a job applicant has not yet had their status confirmed, you can still employ them while you're waiting for their application to be processed.

You shouldn't withdraw your offer of employment, as this could count as discrimination. Instead, the applicant can give you a valid certificate of application (CoA), which the Home Office issues to EUSS applicants.

While the person's application is being processed, you can use this certificate to check their right to work via the Employer Checking Service (ECS).

If the applicant doesn't have a CoA, you can't them and you should advise them to apply to the EUSS to get one.

Don't discriminate

Remember that you must not discriminate based on a person's nationality when you're carrying out right to work checks.

That means that you must be consistent in how you do right to work checks on all employees, including those from the UK.

You must not discourage any applicants, or make assumptions about their right to work or immigration status, based on known or perceived characteristics, including their ethnicity, nationality, accent, surname or the length of time they've been in the UK.

Employing people with a visa

Since 1 January 2021, EEA citizens coming to live, work or study in the UK must obtain immigration status under the points-based system, as with other foreign nationals.

This means they will only be awarded a visa if they gain enough points by meeting a specific set of requirements. EEA citizens will usually be awarded an eVisa if they have enough points.

As an employer, you'll need a sponsor licence to hire skilled workers from outside the UK (not including Irish citizens).

Relevant resources

You can also contact the Home Office's Employer Enquiry helpline on 0300 790 6268. Lines are open Monday to Thursday from 9am to 4.45pm, and Friday from 9am to 4.30pm.


Your cultural and community space toolkit

If you're reading this guide as part of the Grow London Local toolkit for opening, running and growing a cultural or community space, next look at step 5: renting business premises


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