Employers need to take additional care with their ‘Right to Work’ checks after it has been revealed that organised crime gangs are providing false documents to EU workers.

The latest warning comes as the deadline for EU workers to apply for settled status ends. Any EU citizens who failed to obtain EU settled status before 1 July will not lose their right to work in the UK automatically.

The scheme was meant to confirm the rights to work and stay in the UK for people from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein who had been affected by Brexit. 

The deadline for most people to apply to the scheme was 30 June 2021. However, the UK Government said that people who have not had their applications processed yet will have their rights protected while they are waiting for a decision.

Given the fact that many EU citizens living in the UK either failed to apply or are awaiting approval of an application for settled status, some experts have said that the door remains open for organised gangs to commit fraud. 

ID verification specialist SmartSearch has advised employers to have a quick and secure method of verifying the identity of new employees.

SmartSearch’s CEO John Dobson said the strict deadline has posed a risk that organised crime gangs will exploit any opportunity to provide sophisticated false ID documents such as passports and driving licences.

 He said: “What we are likely to see is a surge in false ID documents being circulated and organised crime taking full advantage of the situation.

“Many of the sectors which traditionally rely on EU citizens as part of its workforce, such as construction, hospitality and retail, have of course been hardest hit by the pandemic. This could prove to be a further challenge to the stability of their business.”

Given the fact that many sectors are reliant on EU citizens as workers, the Government has also extended the deadline by 28 days in some cases, where there are reasonable grounds. 

This is due to the estimated 400,000 applications that still need to be processed, from more than five million people who have so far applied.

The latest data shows that just over half the applicants (52 per cent) have been granted settled status, while another 43 per cent have pre-settled status. The Home Office says that only two per cent of applications have been refused.

Businesses that employ someone who is not eligible to work in the UK can lead to a fine of up to £20,000, so it is important that employers thoroughly check new employees ‘Right to Work’, including confirming that any documents provided as proof are not fraudulent. 

Employers that are unsure of an employee’s ‘Right to Work’ in the UK should seek expert advice at the earliest opportunity. Failing to have the right processes and checks in place could land you in hot water. 

At HR Caddy, we provide support to organisations covering all areas of Human Resource management, including advice on how employers can conduct the right checks.  For more help and advice, please contact us today.