Now that the EU settlement scheme has drawn to a close, employers are required to conduct more stringent right to work checks on citizens from the European Economic Area (EEA).

Sutton Coldfield-based HR specialists HR Caddy have said that employers must not overlook or neglect this responsibility, as they could face substantial civil penalties and even criminal prosecution if they fail to conduct the checks correctly.

The EU settlement scheme finished at the end of June and whilst the Government has extended the right to work for some EU citizens, there are likely to be many other workers from the EEA who have not obtained this – although the exact number of EU citizens without settled status in the UK is not yet known.

More than six million applied via the scheme and in many cases, they may have informed their employer about this.

However, businesses taking on new employees from the EEA may not be aware of an employee’s immigration status and must conduct right to work checks, as prescribed by the Government and its Code of Practice.

Louise Long, Senior HR Manager at HR Caddy, said: “Right to work checks are an essential part of the recruitment process, as they give an employer a statutory excuse that prevents them being fined or prosecuted for hiring someone who doesn’t have the required immigration status to work in the UK.

“Employers can do manual-document checks or use the Home Office’s online immigration status checker in most cases to confirm this.

“However, if an employer conducts manual-document checks it is important that they have the right documents, confirm that the documents are not false to the best of their ability and copy and retain this evidence with a date mark in case they are investigated in future.”

Louise said that employers could face unlimited fines of up to £20,000 per worker that is found to not have the right to work in the UK.

“In more serious cases the Home Office has been known to publish the identities of businesses to name and shame employers in breach of these rules and it can take action that could result in a prison sentence of up to five years,” said Louise.

HR Caddy added that the detailed checks were now necessary for every job candidate.

“In certain cases, employers may also need to conduct follow up checks where an employee is on a time-limited work visa, as it remains the responsibility of the employer to ensure that each worker has the right to work at any given point,” Louise added.

HR Caddy has published a detailed guide to right to work checks on its website to support employers, which can be found by visiting: www.hrcaddy.co.uk/a-guide-to-right-to-work-checks/

To find out more about the HR services offered by HR Caddy, please contact us.