Right to work checks: Hiring from outside the UK in 2022

With skilled worker shortages and staffing crises nationwide, hiring overseas employees could be the perfect solution but there are a number of new steps that must be taken by businesses.

The Federation of Small Businesses has compiled a checklist for employers wanting to bring workers from overseas to ensure applicants have the right to work in the UK under new immigration rules.

Freedom of movement between the UK and the EU has now ended and the UK has introduced a new immigration system. As an employer, you must check that job applicants have the legal right to work in the UK before they start their employment. The EU Settlement Scheme ended on 30 June 2021 (although applicants may still apply after this date where they have a “reasonable excuse” for making the application late).

What is a right to work check?

A right to work check is used by the Home Office to verify that workers have the right to work in the UK. You must check an applicant is allowed to work in the UK before you employ them, or you could face a penalty.

When should a right to work check be carried out?

You should carry out a compliant check before the employment commences, or you could face a penalty. There is no requirement to carry out retrospective checks for staff already employed prior to 1 July 2021.

What’s changed?

New immigration rules for recruiting people from outside the UK now apply. If you’re employing someone from outside of the UK, you will need to apply for permission first, unless they are an Irish citizen. For EU, EEA and Swiss citizens arriving at the UK for work purposes from 1 July 2021, new rules now apply. You must have a sponsor licence and carry out a right to work check in accordance with updated Home Office guidance.

You are required to check that all EEA nationals and Swiss nationals have a valid UK immigration status under the new immigration regime: for those individuals, a valid passport or national identity card is no longer sufficient evidence to provide employers with a statutory excuse from a civil penalty if it later transpires an employee does not have the legal right to work in the UK.

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