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Human Resources

What is a Right to Work Check?

These pages provide guidance to staff carrying out Right to Work checks, and general information on eligibility to work for individuals.

We have a legal obligation to ensure that all prospective employees and workers, including casual staff, one-offs, sponsored workers, and visiting lecturers, have the right to work in the UK. The purpose of this check is to provide the University with a statutory excuse against prosecution.

Right to work checks must be competed and evidenced prior to any work taking place at Queen Mary. 

A check made after work has started will not provide a statutory excuse against sanction from the Home Office if the individual is later found to have been working illegally.

Please note the right to work guidance remains unchanged since the UK's withdrew from the EU. EEA and Swiss nationals continue to have an automatic right to work in the UK which can be evidenced with either a passport or national ID card. 

Acceptable Right to Work Documents

It is essential that you conduct right to work checks before any work is undertaken.  The documents that can be accepted as evidence of right to work are set out in the Immigration (Restrictions on Employment) Order 2007.  The eligible documents are divided into two distinct lists, List A and List B. 

  • List A documents give the University a continuious statutory excuse for the duration of the individual's employment.
  • List B documents give the University a time-limited statutory excuse for the duration the document remains valid. Additional checks will need to be undertaken for those who present documents from List B.

Only documents from these lists can be accept as evidence of a right to work. The Home Office checklist is below, please note that where it says current we cannot accept expired documents. 

Right to Work Checklist - Aug 2019 [PDF 172KB]

All right to work checks must be signed and verified using the following statement 

“The date on which this right to work check was made was [insert date]”.  All checks must be dated and contain the name of the person checking the document." 

UK visas or Indefinite Leave to Remain in an expired passport

Please note: Only UK and EEA nationals can demonstrate their right to work with an expired passports. 

We cannot accept an expired passport for non-EEA nationals, nor can we accept an endorsement for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) contained in an expired passport

Individuals who have an ILR stamp or sticker in an expired passport will need to apply to UKVI to have the same visa issued as a separate biometric residence permit (BRP).  

Whilst the application for a BRP is being processed it is possible, with the employee’s permission, to request a document from the UKVI which enables the individual to start work. This check can take up to 5 working days. Once the individual has received their BRP confirming their indefinite right to work we will need to conduct a new right to work check. Please contact your local HR team to arrange for this check to be done.

If an individual has a visa, passport stamp, or ID card stating No Work, then they must not undertake any work for the University. 

International Visitors

If you intend to invite someone to Queen Mary to undertake any work please ensure that they apply for the correct visa prior to their arrival in the UK. Please refer to the Academic visitor guidance for further information.

Guidance for Managers

In addition to these pages we have also created the below documents to assist staff members undertaking Right to Work checks. 

Recruitment Advice for Managers [DOC 115KB]

Recruitment Checklist [DOC 66KB]

Visa Advice for Academic Visitors [PDF 478KB]

Invitation Letter Visa Paragraph [DOC 97KB]

Right to Work Training

We provide monthly right to work training session. This training is for all those who manage and administer immigration and right to work procedures in Departments and Schools.  These sessions are focused on explaining the rationale behind the need to undertake right to work checks as well as explaining key aspects of the UK's immigration system. 

The purpose of the training is to ensure that staff who are responsible for undertaking right to work checks are aware of the legal basis for undertaking checks and to ensure they are conducting checks properly.  The session provides an overview of the UK’s points based immigration system; the correct procedure for checking right to work documents; which documents are acceptable; the consequences of non-compliance.

Below is a list of the upcoming training sessions. You can book a place via the CPD Booking Sytem, the course code is PD218. 

  • 05/03/2020 (10:00 - 11:00) Mile End: Scape 13
  • 05/03/2020 (14:30 - 15:30) Whitechapel: Garrod Building, Room 1.30
  • 02/04/2020 (10:00 - 11:00) Mile End: Laws 308-D
  • 02/04/2020 (14:30 - 15:30) Whitechapel: Garrod Building, Room 1.30
  • 06/05/2020 (10:00 - 11:00) Mile End: Laws 308-D
  • 06/05/2020 (14:30 - 15:30) West Smithfield: Robin Brook Centre Seminar Room 5 

Below are the presentation slides from the previous training sessions.

Why do I need to check for the right to work?

As an employer, Queen Mary University of London has a legal responsibility to prevent illegal migrants from working in the UK.  Queen Mary is therefore required to conduct basic document checks on every person it intends to employ to ensure that it only employs those with a legal right to work in the UK; and to establish a legal ‘excuse’ against liability for payment of a civil penalty if an illegal worker is erroneously employed. The Act also covers employer responsibilities for tracking and monitoring the immigration status of migrant workers once employed, and reporting unauthorised absence.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Queen Mary has a responsibility to ensure that every employee, worker, and visitor (however brief the visit) is properly entitled to work in, and/or participate in the activities of, the University. It is essential that we comply with the legislation of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, and with the policies and regulations of the Home Office. The Home Office will check Queen Mary’s compliance with the law, probably in unannounced visits direct to the employing institutions.

The Immigration Act 2016 made illegal working a criminal offence in its own right and widened the nature of the criminal offence of employing an illegal worker. The changes mean that an illegal worker can receive 51 weeks imprisonment and fines, and that an employer may be prosecuted not only if they knowingly employ an illegal worker but also if they had reasonable cause to believe that the person did not have the right to work.  The consequences of non-compliance are very serious, and the penalties that can be imposed are potentially severe as follows:

On-the-spot fines of up to £20,000 for each illegal worker;

  • A maximum 5-year prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine if illegal workers are employed knowingly, or when there was reasonable cause to believe that they did not have the right to work;

  • Down-grading of Queen Mary’s sponsor licence to a B rating (partially compliant) with subsequent timed action plan to regain A status, and further regular compliance visits to the same, and other, departments;

  • Withdrawal of the sponsor (i.e. University) licence, with the consequence that all sponsored visa holders would have to leave the University and the UK.

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