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Q&A: The right to work in the UK

Joanna Gander

04 September 2017

Q: I run an events company and I’ve just employed a number of people for the busy summer season – more than 100 in fact. Some are just staying in the country for the summer, whilst I’m quite certain that many are permanent UK residents. Is there a way that I can group check everyone’s residential status as opposed to individually?

A: It’s National Payroll Week, so what better time to raise a payroll-related question. Unfortunately, the simple answer to this is ‘no’. If your workers are all employed and registered on your payroll then it is your responsibility, as their employer, to check that all employees have the right to work.

You must carry out a document check before any employees start work. You should ensure the validity of any relevant document showing they have permission to work.

Ideally, the holder of these documents should be present when they are handed over to you for checking. Make a note of the date the checks were carried out and retain hard copies of all documents. You are also required to conduct a follow-up check on people who have time-limited permission to work in the UK. In the event of an HMRC claim, proof of compliance with the prescribed right to work checks will result in an employer being excused from paying a penalty.

With regard to the upcoming Brexit, employees from the EU, EEA or Switzerland continue to have the right to work in the UK until the UK leaves the EU. HMRC has released an online tool which can assist with checks. You can find it at www.gov.uk/legal-right-work-uk.

How can Wilkins Kennedy help?

As part of National Payroll Week from 4-8 September 2017, Wilkins Kennedy is running a series of blogs, events and workshops which focus on a number of employment issues, including payroll, taxes and HR. Contact us for more information.

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