During the process of determining whether employees have sufficient evidence to decide their right to work in the UK, organisations may request a range of documents for validation. This occurs as part of the right to work checks which involves receiving, checking and keeping a copy of any key documents that employers may ask for. The types of documents that can be requested by organisations depends on immigration status i.e. whether you are a British, Swiss or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen, or originally a citizen of a non-EEA country.
The process is governed by various UK employment laws such as the 2006 Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act that ensure the process is fair and impartial. Other laws that preserve equal opportunities for employees also govern the process to prevent discrimination across all potential employees and applicants.
If any businesses are found to be liable under any of these laws – in other words, they are not living up to employer rights and responsibilities – the organisation may face heavy fines for employing a person ineligible to work in the UK.
What Documents Can an Employer Ask For?
Organisations may ask for multiple different original documents, but they vary depending on whether the prospective employee is a British or foreign national.
Businesses may refer to the UK government’s guide to acceptable right to work documents and their right to work checklist. The list includes list A and list B items, both of which include documents that could be requested by an organisation to ensure a worker has the appropriate rights to reside and work in the UK.
List A items are designed for British and EEA citizens, and they include:
- Passports (British, Swiss, and EEA citizens)
- Original identity cards from EEA or Swiss nationals, as well as a Home Office document allowing permanent residence
- Birth certificates along with a document showing a national insurance number
- Current immigration status documents with permission to stay in the UK permanently
List A items give the holder “permanent and unrestricted right to work in the UK”, meaning a check of a document on the list has to be done only once before employment and not repeated during the course of it.
List B items designed more for non-British or EEA citizens include:
- A biometric immigration document issued by the Home Office allowing permanent residence
- A residence card held by a non-EEA citizen but who is a relative of a UK or EEA citizen, as issued by the Home Office
- Current immigration status document issued by the Home Office attached with a photo and permanent national insurance number
All list B documents only provide temporary access to the UK, and so organisations need to repeatedly check them as certain visas come with restrictions and they may end during the term of employment. This is especially important to consider if you want to renew a staff member’s contract.
Organisations will of course not ask for all of these documents, but they are legally the items they can ask for. They may also ask for others including proof of date of birth, bank statements or proof of address as part of a criminal record or DBS check. According to Hantsweb, some occupations including nurses and teachers may also require original qualification certificates.
If an employee cannot provide an original visa as it has not been accepted and issued yet, an organisation may contact the Home Office and enquire as to whether an application has been received for that person. A member of staff should provide their visa for inspection whenever it is issued, and they have it in their possession.