Post Brexit: Changes to Right to Work Checks


Employing anyone who does not have the legal right to work in the UK is illegal. With fines up to £20,000 per illegal worker, you cannot afford to be complacent. Whilst you are not expected to be a border patrol agent, a private investigator, or an immigration specialist, as an employer, you are expected to carry out a reasonable level of due diligence checks.

In this article we are going to examine the current procedures for verifying a potential employees right to work and how this may change in a Post Brexit world!

Who has to do a check?

As an employer, you are required to check for proof of eligibility to work in the UK for All who work for you in any capacity. Obtaining evidence of legal right to work in the UK is a crucial part of the hiring process. To prevent discrimination charges, make sure that everyone is treated the same and that no assumptions are made about someone’s right to work in the UK based on their race or ethnicity


  • Agency workers – the agency is the employer and is, therefore, responsible for verifying their right to work.
  • Subcontractors (such as cleaning or security personnel) are employees of a third-party provider
  • Genuinely self-employed contractors, but caution is advised because, despite their best intentions, they can fall into the ‘worker’ or even ‘employee’ category, requiring you, as the ‘employer,’ to check their right to work in the UK.

When should I do the check?

The checks need to be done BEFORE employment commences.

You will only need to check documentation again if their immigration conditions change, or if they have a work permit or visa that has an expiration date.

Valid Documents:

✅ GB or EU Passport (Including Irish Passport)

✅UK Full Birth Certificate with official confirmation of NI number

✅Home Office or Biometric Residence Permit

✅Certificate of naturalisation as a British citizen with official confirmation of NI number (from previous employer or Government agency)

NOT Valid Documents:

❎ UK Driving Licence

❎ National Insurance Number (In Isolation)

❎ UK Address on utility bill/phone bill

What to look for and how to check now:

An original valid passport, National Identity Card or (in the case of UK nationals), an original birth certificate, must be presented. Photocopies are not acceptable.

Check the picture to verify identity.

Examine the date of birth – does their claimed level of experience add up? Is their name spelled correctly, and, more importantly, is it the same name they used on previous documents? Any name change, such as a marriage certificate or a divorce decree, must be accompanied by proper documents.

Check the date of any visa or residency permit’s expiration. If there is an expiration date, the visa must be reviewed at least once a year.

Does the paper appear to be authentic? Does it seem to have been tampered with?


What Impact will Post Brexit have on these processes?

Traditionally, if a worker held a British passport or a passport from another EU country, they were automatically qualified to work in the UK and did not need to apply for a visa.

Significant changes to eligibility criteria is expected, however, the current guidance states that anyone resident in the UK by 31st December 2020 will have until 30th June 2021 to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.

The current means of verifying right to work for EU nationals remain valid. Employers cannot insist upon seeing proof of settled or pre-settled status before this date but you should certainly ensure that all workers are aware of this requirement. The status of EU nationals looking to work between January and June 2021, is somewhat unclear and it remains a possibility that such an individual could be deemed to be working illegally.

As we get closer to June 2021, expect more Home Office guidance on right to work tests. In the meantime, employers will be relieved to learn that the Home Office has confirmed that no retrospective checks will be needed for current employees.


Need help with this?

If it all seems a little overwhelming, or you don’t have the time, don’t worry; here at Opal People Solutions we can provide expert advice and assistance with UK right to work checks.

We’re sure you will find it’s worth it for peace of mind compliance that’s managed quickly and effectively. If you would like to hear more, please get in touch or speak to one of our HR specialists on +44 7525 095277.

About Opal People Solutions: 

At Opal People Solutions, we pride ourselves on delivering results for our clients.

We Believe in Making a Difference! We are a comprehensive Human Resources Agency situated in Co. Antrim, N.Ireland and we work across the island of Ireland as well as GB.  Our extensive experience in the HR industry means that we protect your business by providing professional advice and support and working with you to deliver the best outcome for you and your people.

Whether you are looking for ongoing support or some assistance on a one-off project basis, we can offer you over 20 years’ experience in the people management field.

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Post Brexit: Changes to Right to Work Checks | Opal People Solutions