Under the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996, employers are currently required to carry out certain checks to ensure that potential employees are legally entitled to work in the UK.
The check must be carried out prior to the employee starting work and the NI number on an official document as sole proof of entitlement to work has not been allowed since changes were made to the act in May 2004.
Currently, prospective employees must produce a single document from List 1 such as a passport or a specified combination of two documents from List 2. Employers are also required to make copies of these documents and retain them on file from 29th February 2008. The law has been changed regarding these checks and there are fundamental changes to the law under the Asylum, Immigration and Nationality Act 2006 that employers should be aware of. The new maximum penalty is up to £10,000 per illegal employee.
The two lists that employers must work from have changed. Employers can accept a document from List A such as a UK passport but if the employee is unable to produce a document from List A they must be asked if they can produce a document from List B. Documents listed on List B only provide temporary right to work in the UK. Consequently, employers will be required to check that the employee has a continuing right to work in the UK every 12 months.
Either the documents from List B have been extended or the employee is a holder of one of the documents shown in List A. Where the employee no longer has the right to work in the UK, and cannot provide proof that they are in the process of obtaining continuing approval to work in the UK, the employer will have to terminate the employment.
Just as before, employers will also be required to check that any photographs on passports etc are consistent with the employee’s appearance and date of birth, also checking stamps on any official documents.
Employers must also take reasonable steps to ensure that the documents provided are not forged. It should be emphasised that employers will be in trouble if they have allowed employees to start working before the necessary checks have been carried out.
Further guidance is available from www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/employers